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There are crazy people all over the internet. You run into them. You deal with it. But every once in a while you run into someone so strange, so utterly fucked-up, that your brain just throws out a red card and shuts down. And today I ran into one: Sam Childers, Christian Preacher, Missionary, and either one of the most irresponsible men on the planet, or just batshit insane.

Charity: You're Doing It Wrong )
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And speaking of people making pacts "with the devil"...

Former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, speaking during his trial for war crimes at The Hague, decided he had nothing to lose, and threw Pat Robertson (as in, American televangelist, Haiti-made-a-deal-with-the-devil Pat Robertson) under a bus last week. Taylor, who is guilty as hell of having perpetrated a series of mass atrocities during the Sierra Leone war (not to mention at home), revealed the long-suspected details of his and Robertson's gold exploration venture in Liberia, indicating that as part of the original deal, Taylor would give Robertson's company a license in return for Robertson lobbying the new administration on his behalf.

Or course, by Robertson's own tortuous train of thought (which I won't dignify by calling logic), Liberia probably made a deal with the devil. If Liberia did, Robertson was one of the devil's agents, or possibly even the devil himself, and since he believes that prayer can defeat demons, one wonders if he prays for himself. He probably needs it.


Nov. 22nd, 2009 03:41 pm
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Ever seen one of those ad campaigns that just manages to give completely the wrong message? Like somebody just has no idea what they're actually saying?

I ran across one of those today, not a campaign but a slogan under the sign for Villa St. Benedict, on the outskirts of town which said, if I wasn't misreading it: Senior Living in the Benedictine Style.

Senior living in the style of the Benedictines? What's not to love? The long litany of required prayers? The prohibition on consuming meat? The absolute obedience required to the abbot? The paranoid anti-clericalism? The mandatory hard labor? I mean, who wouldn't want to live in the Benedictine way after retirement?

I'm sure that's not what they meant, but in case they do I have something new to threaten my father with in his old age.
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So, I've been watching a bit of the History Channel, and right now they seem to be a bit attached to the idea of the end of the world (which is strange considering that you would think that the History Channel would be thinking about, well, you know, things that have already happened and stuff), of course completely independently of the way that ads for 2012 keep cropping up in between shows. The other day I caught a bit of them talking about the Christian end of the world, which involves the forces of Satan rising to bring anarchy, chaos, disaster, long lines at the checkout stand, boy bands, all that kind of stuff that normally comes with the end of the world.

According to the History Channel, Satan will be assisted by two men, the Antichrist, who will seize power and dominion over all nations, and the False Prophet, who will serve to turn men away from God. Now, the Antichrist is sort of a well-known factor, but it seems to me that Christians who believe that they are in the End Times should really be worrying about the False Prophet. After all, nobody trusts politicians anymore, but how do you find the False Prophet? He's not going to tell you he's false, he's going to preach like a good Christian preacher, building up a following with his charismatic sermons, while slowly and carefully twisting his teaching, confusing you until you no longer know which way is the right way. If biblical prophecy is the only way you can make it through the End Times safely, then the False Prophet is the most dangerous of them all, because he is the one who will be twisting the message of the Bible, who will be slowly darkening your path and poisoning your way. And he could be anywhere, he could be that young charismatic preacher whose sermons you watch on Sundays on TV, he could be the guest speaker who you went to see last summer, he could even be in your own church, and you will never know until you feel the tip of the knife in your back.

So how do you protect yourself from the False Prophet? Well, think of what we know about him; a man who is a great preacher, who can draw the attention and adoration of crowds, and even call down fire from heaven.

Obviously the solution is that you should only listen to churches and sermons delivered and written solely by women. After all, this excludes the False Prophet completely, if there are no men in positions of authority, he can't even begin to spread his diabolical teachings.

This solution is so obvious, yet so ignored that there must be something wrong with it. Can somebody tell me what that is?
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In light of recent events I feel that I should point out that the US has spent billions of dollars (that's billions with a B) learning how to get the pro-Choice movement to beat the combined anti-abortion movements. Of course, don't tell them about it; the government for the most part hasn't got a clue that's what they spent the money on, but the US has been spending a lot of money learning how to deal with the sophisticated, multi-level propaganda attack that they got hit with by the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. And nobody runs a fourth generation insurgency media campaign quite like the religious right. For years, they've been milking the same imagery, the idea of a group of brave, morally concerned freedom fighters doing the right thing, underfunded but with lots of willpower, in the face of determined attacks by the evil establishment. Well, the US has spent a lot of time and effort working a way to deal with that, and maybe the pro-Choice movement should take advantage of it.

What follows is a list of extremely amateurish suggestions that are the matter of personal opinion of a complete amateur, go on for a long 12 pages, and may have no real bearing on reality. Consider yourself warned.

Extremely, extremely long, tedious, and boring personal opinion follows. Seriously. I warned you. )

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] mergle for reading this once already.
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So, I've been catching up on what my old pals at the Discovery Institute, the last bastion of Creationism, are up to these days. Apparently there is not one, but three major imbroglios on the Creationism-Evolution front, and I've missed all of them. For those of you who don't follow this stuff (or don't care), here's the thirty second version:

* Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, of the Astronomy faculty of Iowa State University, and a supporter of Intelligent Design, was denied tenure during his review, causing the Discover Institute to blame bias against Intelligent Design. Not so, claims the Chronicle of Higher Education, a claim discussed more in depth by others. The long and short of it is that while Dr. Gonzalez has a good publication record, almost all of his publications were done before he entered his current position, and thus are not applicable toward a tenure hearing. Furthermore, he has seemed incapable of securing telescope time or funding, both necessary pieces of the tenure race. And the fact that ISU has since been bombarded by a letter-writing campaign makes it unlikely that anybody else will hire him in the future.

* To make matters worse, the Discovery Institute has discovered that another professor, an atheist, has recently been promoted to full professor at ISU. Clearly seeing that if an atheist can be promoted, and in the Religious Studies department no less, while an ID supporter is denied tenure in the Astronomy department, the entire University must be prejudiced, the DI swings to the attack. Professor Hector Avalos, who has no connection to Dr. Gonzalez's tenure qualifications decides that he doesn't want to be a punching bag, and comes out swinging. Fighting continues below in the comments, as William Dembski of the DI attempts to compare apples and oranges by assuming that the requirements for promotion of an already tenured professor in the Religious Studies department must be the same as those for obtaining tenure as a Professor of Astronomy. Things get further muddled as various people accuse Prof. Avalos of clairvoyance (deliberately publishing something that would prejudice professors against Dr. Gonzalez several years before Gonzalez was hired), and of starting a "witch-hunt" by circulating a petition against Intelligent Design in the University. Critics point out that a petition to declare Intelligent Design as not-Science is perfectly reasonable, true, and, most importantly, totally irrelevant to Dr. Gonzalez's inability to get any telescope time.

* The case against the University of California has finally gone to court. The Association of Christian Schools, International, is suing, claiming the the UCs are discriminating against their students at admission time. The UCs respond by pointing out that the textbooks involved in the disputed science classes do not fulfill the requirements necessary to count as science classes that would prepare you for a UC (specifically, they are filled with hooey). The ASCI claims they have a constitutional right to teach bad science, and that the UCs should accommodate that. After all, the students learned something. The Regents aren't buying it. You can read more about that kerfluffle, and Behe's brief appearance in it, here.

* And the new Creation Museum in Kentucky opened its doors, resulting a wash of criticism, and people laughing too hard to breathe. Complete blog coverage can be found here.

It's been an interesting couple of weeks. We'll have to see how this pans out.
danalwyn: (Default)
I've mentioned it before, but that was just a preview of what was to come. Apparently I misjudged the kind of havoc that a brand-new game company could wreak in its first attempt to create a viable Real-Time Strategy game based on the precepts of a very badly written work of evangelical porn masquerading as biblical prophecy.

Gamespot, who is usually pretty reliable, gives Left Behind: Eternal Forces a 3.4 out of 10.0, which is, for them, a pretty damn miserable score. To quote pertinent parts of the review:

Nobody has enough faith to endure a game with such a hokey story, terrible mission design, serious problems with the interface and graphics, and loads of crippling bugs.


Well, the battleground between the true believers' Tribulation Force and the Antichrist's Global Community Peacekeepers is a heathenish New York City. Your units include gospel-singing musicians, missionaries, healers, and medics. Enemy units feature college-trained secularists, devils, and foul-mouthed rock stars with their electric twangers.


On a purely basic level, you do have to at least appreciate the interesting twist on the RTS genre the game takes. But beyond that twist, there's nothing remarkable about it--other than the fact that it is a remarkably bad game. Let's hope it inspires designers to experiment with the genre, if nothing else.

I can't say as I'm surprised. It would take a very good team of experienced designers to put together an engine that could deal with the conflicting demands of a peaceable religion fightning non-passive opponents. That game may yet come. What I really find odd is that anyone thought this model could work at all. One of the things I've noticed is that it's hard to create a game based around "converting" other people to a different religion without making the religion slightly silly, and not at all serious. If you try to take religion, and conversion, seriously, you're right back with "Bily Graham's Bible Blaster", and the whole game just becomes silly. There are some things that gaming just isn't capable of doing yet, and converting the heathens seems to be one of them.

In the meantime, while I wait for a decent religious game, I can exhult in the boot that the Left Behind conglomerate has just taken in the mouth. If the other game reviewers agree, they may not churn out an even-duller sequel ("Left Behind 2: Vice City"). I'll take that as good news any day of the week.

The full review is here
danalwyn: (Default)
Been reading BBC again.

Much to the surprise of the Hindutva supporters here in California (after the textbook kerfuffle), apparently there are Dalits in India who feel a bit discriminated against from time to time. In the traditions of religions everywhere, some of the Dalits have been converting to other religions. This has been going on for some time. I also know that official steps to combat this exodus of people have been made by the Indian government.

What does amuse me is that, apparently to reduce the numbers involved in "Hindu Flight", the state of Gujarat has classified both Jainism and Buddhism as branches of the Hindu religion.

I know the intent deals with the Indian branches of Buddhism, but now I have the image in my head of some poor Indian guru climbing up a mountain in Japan to converse with his brother-in-religion, a Zen monk, and asking him:

"What is the essence of Hinduism?"

"Why, no essence whatsoever."

For some reason this cracks me up. Does this make me evil or just strange?
danalwyn: (Default)
I am done with shifts! Finally! And we would have had a record luminosity run too if DZero hadn't gotten hit with lightning. Stupid DZero...

In celebration I went out last night and picked up some more Chick Tracts (Unloved and Bad Bob), in the process getting myself into a discussion with one of the pamphleteers for over an hour. It was an amiable discussion - we just didn't find ourselves agreeing on a lot of points. The discussion quickly ended up in the old faith-and-works argument, as well as debate on whether or not you could declare yourself "Saved".

I'm not very fond of the faith-only approach, so I argued against it. In the process, however, I had to project my beliefs into the form of Christianity. Since I am not, precisely, Christian, understand that I found this a bit difficult to do. As a result, I wonder if, somehow, in doing so I committed some kind of doctrinal fault. Because I have no idea how I sounded (he was well-practiced), I have no idea if I am insulting Christianity by just appearing to ape it. After all, I am taking beliefs that fit me, and that are manifestly mine, and entering them in a framework that I only believe is compatible. So, in light of possible future encounters, I have written down my argument here, and freely invite people to come tear it to shreds or find doctrinal holes (I expect that there are some in there somewhere). This is actually heartfelt; I want to know if my conception of what Christian beliefs could mean is completely unacceptable to Christianity.

Note: Since I am essentially projecting myself into a religion I may or may not share, I will understand perfectly if someone wishes to flame me to death for this. I expect most people will not agree.

danAlwyn's Theology )
danalwyn: (Default)
I think I've found religion.  I've always entertained some doubts about organized Christianity, but any religion that will give me an assault rifle and an armed helicopter, and then send me off to smite the ungodly in the streets of New York is OK in my book.

In other news, I think that the Left Behind: Eternal Forces Real Time Strategy game may suffer just a bit from mixed messages.

(Thanks to [profile] aphrodeia for reminding me of this, and for ABC for reporting on it.  You can see the ABC video of the demo here)
danalwyn: (Default)
In which danAlwyn is a total bastard.

This is a total complete of time, and it's religiously offensive to boot (for some). Don't say I didn't warn you:

danAlwyn's Brief History of Modern Radical Islam and Fundamental Christianity )


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