vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
2017-04-21 06:18 pm

Unrelated: Buchfechten, or the defence against the dark Bible-thumping arts.

What with all that silliness with hankies and peepee sites and whatnot I figured I might as well weigh in.

Comparing my experience of the Bible in Orthodoxy to the Bible in Evangelicalism is sort of like this:

Read more... )
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
2017-04-17 09:48 pm

The heuristics of Leviticus 18:22

You have seen it written: do not lie with a male as with womankind, for it is an abomination. But I say unto you: I tell you the truth, unless your abominations against womankind come to an end also, you will not see the kingdom of heaven until all of Sodom and Gomorrah have been saved.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
2017-01-25 11:58 pm

Passing thought from a Facebook comment.

From the day the "Moral Majority" became a political force for the Republicans, the public face of conservative Christianity in America has consistently and relentlessly been that of a joyless puritanical Wahhabism that could not distinguish popular music from literal Devil worship, the most shockingly callous sodomitic disregard for - indeed scorn and explicit positive delight in the misery of - the poor and needy, a fanatical devotion to destroying revealed truth for the sake of enforcing the old law, and bloody and deceitful men who hate peace and are for war without end. And that situation remains to this day.

Obviously most of Christianity in America is nothing of the sort. But so long as any gifts are accepted, the Sodomite kings will long be able to boast, "We made these sons of Abraham rich".
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
2016-09-20 11:06 pm

So there goes the one of maybe like three things I remember learning in my undergrad studies.

Dropping universal grammar in favour of the general human learning heuristic is a wonderful thing.

I had long used the uniqueness of this human faculty for language as a sharp line between us and all non-human animals. Such a line - or at least an undisputable distinction - is important to the faith. But to relegate our capacity for language to a combination of things that can each be found in lesser or varying amounts in other species demolishes that wall.

And yet... we're still the only species that has language.

The UG is not the Logos. If it does not exist, it cannot even be a pale shadow of it. But the foregoing has suggested otherwise. I feel like a good friend has just thrown out an idol in my home that I wasn't even conscious was there.

The mystery remains, and the gatekeepers of heresy will not prevail against it.

A generalized learning process seems to imply that, literally, we just learn rules. Surely the effect of this, especially given some of the examples provided, is to blur the line between descriptive and prescriptive? And yet this does not give the no-split-infinitives pedants free rein: there are rules, after all, and then there are *rules*. There are the customs of one particular tribe, or of one particular subculture, within which *and only within which* "everyone" "typically" does (or says) something a certain way, and to blame someone for not talking proper in a situation where it would be actually improper to do so is unmitigated knavery.

I don't know where to go from here on this. It feels like there's something bigger, at least for myself, but I can't quite seem to recall or articulate what it is.
vaecrius: The blocky spiral motif based on the golden ratio that I use for various ID icons, ending with a red centre. (Default)
2016-08-05 09:02 pm

Another thing I don't believe.

(a slightly cleaned up version of a Facebook post)

But before that, here's a great talk by Fr. Seraphim Aldea on Elder Sophrony and what prayer is and is not. Takes a bit to warm up but worth it.

What struck me most was the emphasis on the encounter and having to shed any (merely cerebral) notion of who or what God is - right after I'd read Melinda Selmys' praise of atheism as the most pious anti-pietism and Simone Weil's related thoughts - including the following editor's footnote:
God does not in fact exist in the same way as created things which form the only object of experience for our natural faculties. Therefore, contact with supernatural reality is at first felt as an experience of nothingness.

All this left me wondering how far the forgetting went. Do we even throw out the name of Jesus (i.e., that particular set of syllables by which we refer to Him in our own language)?

Googling that brought me this Evangelical polemic against apophatic theology, which addresses the concern quite directly and says that such mystical obfuscation is incompatible with the notion of a truly personal God that one can relate to in the ordinary sense. It's long, but I only really have one rebuttal: the approach endorsed in place of the apophatic has left me with no way to discern if any given thing I am seeing, or whatever I think I may be seeing, is God or self-delusion.

Of more interest is the other article on the site respecting Orthodoxy, not really because I find it interesting but because it works as a surprisingly good springboard for clarifying how Orthodox theology differs from other Christianities I do not believe.

This is not intended to be a full rebuttal, but to highlight some of what I think are the most salient points:
The Reformed Protestant position does not eschew tradition as useless, as Brown rightly states, it simply rejects it as authoritative. "Traditions" are necessary in terms of the particulars of living out our faith, and may even express themselves in the distinctives of denominationalism (within the pale of orthodoxy with the small "o") but the essence of the faith is clear and centered on the Biblical truth of the gospel. The Orthodox Tradition obscures the gospel, for it is itself obscure and contradictory, subjective and mutable. It solves nothing that it claims to solve, for the presence of Tradition as an Interpreter of Scripture only serves to set back the problem one step: if the Bible needs an infallible Interpreter, who interprets the Interpreter?
This is a bit of unfortunate polemic: Mr. Carrino describes himself as "an avid student of Eastern Orthodoxy" and reasserts that authority throughout the articles, and yet here is a rhetorical question that has a simple and explicitly stated answer in Orthodox doctrine: the Holy Spirit abides in and is active within the Church to guide that Tradition. Indeed, that point could have been inferred even if he had somehow not seen it in his studies: whatever your theological basis, some point up the chain must have God directly involved, or the theology is self-evidently false no matter what it says.

The same inference could, of course, be made for a Bible-centered Protestantism: all the chains lead up to the Bible, which is given to us by God. But both would agree that the faith does not come directly from the transcendent God (whether the Father alone or the Trinity), but rather through the incarnate Christ. And the most obvious way for that to have happened would be this: Christ proved He was God through His resurrection, then dicated the Scriptural canon to the Apostles, if not physically delivered bound copies of complete Bibles to everyone right on Pentecost - take, read, this is My Word.

But the Bible itself does not record anything remotely resembling such an event anywhere. Instead, we see in Acts that the Holy Spirit possessed the Apostles and had them saying things (as He previously "spoke by the prophets") that, per Paul's descriptions later on (in the Bible if not chronologically), were handed down to others... which is exactly what is alleged by the Orthodox Church to be the source of its authority to interpret Scripture. Even going by Scripture as the sole binding authority, the clearest and simplest explanation for the data favours the Orthdox position more than the Reformed one.

A few other points:

Thirdly, no authorized canon of the Church Fathers exists.
This, of course, is a substantial misunderstanding, but its genesis is easy to understand if you assume the writer is lumping Orthodox and Catholics together and has no idea why the former are so resistant against reunification with the latter. The Orthodox approach to being a Church is less like a gatekeeper that elects bosses to say what's wrong and right, and more like the sort of emergent "hivemind" that has given us the use of the word "Anonymous" as a singular proper noun. A flock of sheep, a school of fish, a colony of bees will have a similar dynamic, if in the former cases much less hierarchical (and accordingly much less like a body).

Mr. Corrino's use of disagreements and squabbles within the Church as a sign of Her lack of authority is one and the same misunderstanding: even ants and bees have freeloaders and rivalries, but no one thereby denies the reality of the colony (also known in A. mellifera as simply the Bee). Indeed the little inconsistencies between the four Gospel accounts reflect this known variable perfectly. The heuristic is simple to articulate, if at times difficult to implement: find a pattern to discern the teaching, or if no pattern exists, then there is no teaching. Any biologist, linguist, marketing consultant, stock broker, lawyer or duck hunter can do this.

"Authorized" implies authority - more accurately, a narrow "gatekeeper" sort of authority, in the sense of people (priests, bishops, spiritual fathers) telling you what to do. Such authority does exist in the Church - but it is only that, telling you what to do, not what is right. What is right must be experienced and demonstrated, whether directly by each Christian or by the commonly - not necessarily always universally but repeatedly, frequently, predictably, typically - lived experience of those who have lived the Christian life in communion with the Church. That is a very different thing from appointing people to organize everything so anything can get done.

The heavy emphasis on the substitutionary nature of the sacrifice within the pre-Mosaic period as well as in the Levitical system is not only clear, but essential to any proper understanding of the earlier covenants.
There are people who have rebutted this old canard much better than I ever could. Suffice it to say that this "heavy emphasis" simply does not exist when you read the actual prescriptions, except only for the scapegoat which of course is clearly not sacrificed, merely gotten rid of. (And even that is more of a symbol than a substitution.) A comparative approach with other sacrificial ritual systems - whether offering a chicken to the ancestors or the old champagne on the boat, or even the way "sacrifice" is used in modern military rhetoric - would clarify this rather quickly.

As for the arguments that certain Scriptural passages support a juridical view of salvation:
  1. Having believed in both at different points in my life, it is clear that the juridical imputed salvation is but filthy rags compared to theosis and is frankly insulting to think that such a morality play is the ultimate plan for us from the God that both loves us as His prize creation but also made the solar flare and the cuckoo wasp.

  2. The passages themselves can be read both ways, and "worthy" and "undone" suggest to me actually something far more ontological, arete-related, than being liable for something.

I mean... do you really think Wayne and Garth are confessing a horrible crime to Alice Cooper in this scene? (also note the top comment: "Me and a friend did this for Scott Travis from Judas Priest after a gig. Best 10 seconds of my life." This is not that pale a shadow.)
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
2016-04-21 07:19 pm

(Note to self: get a proper Christian userpic.)

Learning to the read the Scriptures, in which its stories reveal things to us about God is difficult. All Christian reading of the OT must be read through the lens of Christ. Those who do this in a backward sense fall into error.

The Fathers said that the OT is a “shadow” of the truth. Too many people try to read it as though it was a clear, literal presentation of the truth. It is not. That is the witness of the Fathers. It is shadow.

The New Testament is “icon of the truth” according to the Fathers. It is a faithful image and can be used to understand and clarify the shadow. The age to come is the truth itself, the fathers said, when all things will be clear.

Frankly, at a certain point in Christian history, an alternative gospel was created. This was not the gospel of Pascha, the primitive and abiding witness of the Orthodox faith. Instead, it was the story of the wrathful God and the infinitely indebted people of earth. We are the bad guys, deserving of every possible punishment. Etc.

The scope of Scripture and the message of Pascha is utterly foreign to that story. The true Paschal story is of a people who are in bondage, held captive. They are to be pitied rather than blamed. Christ comes to destroy the false debt of death and set us free. He leads us into the promised land. He tramples down death by death. He becomes what we are that we might become what He is.
Fr. Stephen's comment to his article "Getting Your Mind Right"
vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
2016-04-07 01:49 pm

Why did I step into this evolution debate...

[saved as an oversized Tumblr post. Click here for that conversation in full.]

Read more... )

If the foregoing is too long to read, or if it seems rambling and out of context, I invite the reader to consider:
  • Were the Pharisees infected with a fungus that clouded their judgment?
  • Where is the proof of the existence of the seven sickly cows that ate the seven fat ones? If they never existed, is Pharaoh's dream thereby not inspired by God?
  • Are Judas Iscariot and Joseph's brothers blameless because they were only doing the will of God in their evil acts?
  • When the Mosaic law forbids the flesh of bats in the explicit context of clean and unclean birds, are we required to reject any taxonomy that does not include Chiroptera in Aves?
  • Are we required to hold that every one of Christ's parables actually happened?
  • How can you slay someone before the foundation of the world, when clearly death does not exist until some time after?
  • If Adam had no concept of death, why would God warn him that he would die? If he had a concept of death, where did it come from? If Adam had no concept of death and God's warning was a deliberate setup to help him learn what death was, then what is so important about death that God would do such a thing?
  • If Adam and Eve died the day they ate the fruit, and they did not conceive until after they did this (and consider the time it takes to sew enough fig leaves together to wear as a garment and to process the shock and horror of what had happened after the banishment before anyone could possibly be in the mood for sex - surely more than one day all told), and the death of the Fall must be one and the same as biological death, how did Eve's body manage to gestate Cain, Abel and Seth?
  • If Christ has defeated death with his Pascha, how come people still die?
  • [EDIT not found on Tumblr: What are the waters above the heavens?]

Some of these points are petty and others are central to the faith, with others in between. I have made minimal effort to sort them. The point is that there is enough room in Scripture, if a strict historical exegesis is made a condition of the faith, to allow the simplest Marie Henein treatment to be much stronger grounds for apostasy than the modern evolutionary synthesis on its own.

(That Youtube link calls for further comment, if for no better reason than lest I play right into another commenter's insinuation that I myself am an apostate. I think, without having any great knowledge in that field, that the archaeological data is more or less as the author characterized it - and yet I remain a Christian. This is because I believe that God revealed Himself to Israel through those pre-existing myths and took on the particular god Jehovah to lead them to Him. Consider the parallel between this and God appearing again among a whole host of this time not gods, but Jewish rabbis and self-proclaimed Messiahs, distinguishing Himself from them by words and deeds of authority of which the others prove ultimately incapable. Scripture is filled with these appropriations from pagan gods, most notably Psalm 104(103):3 (among many other similar references) and Acts 17:28. To try to explain away all of them is to do more violence to the text than denying the historical accuracy of certain specific texts or to admit that some were written in a (subjectively, at the time) self-serving manner. It is a kind of textual violence that we never see the apostles doing in the NT, and even if you rope in a convert here and there I do not believe it is constructive in preparing anyone for their long-term salvation.)
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
2016-03-21 04:01 pm

Byzantine perspective and practical considerations

This started off as a comment to the discussion here, but it both grew and degenerated into its own thing. Hopefully a bit more coherent than my last meditation on this.

With respect to the contrast between the perspective in Byzantine icons (and even most medieval art) versus the "realistic" style of post-Renaissance work, one thing that always strikes me is how much the former resembles the perspective in video games before 3D "photo"-realism became the norm.

For a particularly striking example: doorways in tile-based or isometric CRPGs (scroll down to "Chestyrre approaches a house to the south" and the second screenshot after that) and the door leading out to the world at the bottom of the Pentecost icon. The fact that even current games show a need to go "back" to this portrayal underscores the point about different needs.

(Also this icon of the Fall reminds me of the style of the Golden Axe games, but the latter is more of a technical limitation than a design decision, so not quite as good an example even if in my view more visually striking.)

This excellent discussion shows how much even "photo"-realistic depictions, literally mathematically perfect by Renaissance perspective rules (an unaided computer cannot do otherwise), need to be tweaked and adjusted to begin to function in a way that allows the most basic interactions one might expect in real life. Of note: a personal face-to-face interaction is the most difficult; violent games routinely render the player's own weapon (i.e., the player's primary means of participation) with a different perspective. And, of course, the first comment about monitor size and distance - which is entirely applicable to icons. And, of course, the way the person's face changes with the different FOV.

And, of course, actual photography requires a great deal of preparation and overhead before the machine you're using can reasonably approximate what you see.

So with all that in mind I can think of two main ways in which this manner of perspective works:

First, by drawing emphasis on what actually is necessary to depict, without cutting them off unrecognizably, obscuring other elements or requiring a great deal of irrelevant white space. (Consider, for instance, how tiny Jesus would be on your typical Transfiguration or Anastasis icon if rendered with modern perspective rules!)

Second, of which the first may be a subset, is the proper positioning of each element so that the player viewer might interact comfortably with it.

I write this with one specific example in mind: the Theotokos icon on the iconostasis in our church, which is based on this one (top row, second from the right). The ordinary manner of venerating this icon is to bow before it and kiss the Mother of God's right hand, as one might a priest in receiving a blessing. (Christ's feet are also kissed but that is another matter.) Her hand, however, is ostensibly also supporting Christ's weight; she'd have to move it and adjust Him for this purpose. The priest can simply swap hands; the icon cannot be animated to show the Theotokos doing this. (We might be able to do it now but the result would start dipping into the uncanny valley.)

This leaves us 3 options:
  1. Theotokos holding Christ in her left hand, stuck in a "kiss the ring" pose. Very effective for this 5-second exchange and nothing else (i.e., the rest of the 0.5-2+ hours that you're in there facing the icon).

  2. Theotokos holding Christ in her right hand, Renaissance perspective. You venerate Mary, bend awkwardly and kiss Christ's arse. Humbling, maybe, but inappropriate (and not in a good way).

  3. The in-between perspective we actually see on the icon so venerated.
This may be related to the (relative!) lack of statuary: this sort of trick simply does not work with a 3D model. Another trick: a picture of someone looking at you always looks like it's looking at you except at the most oblique angles, but a lone statue looking at what is in front of it is more often than not staring into nothing in particular (which at best makes the depicted seem remote and distant, at worst evokes Psalm 135:16).

Unrelated to perspective but related to design, one thing that always strikes me about the labels on icons is how difficult they are to read - even the ones in English are heavily stylized, longer words broken up and longer phrases mashed together in very reader-unfriendly ways, to the point of not being immediately recognizable as text, or at least text in one's own vernacular. This, I have come to believe, if it weren't deliberate before, is a bug-become-feature: we don't want to be reading any text without conscious effort - the immediately obvious focus should be the image of the person represented.

I'm sure there are other more concrete examples, but nothing in particular springs to mind now.

(And I don't think I'll really "get" anytime soon those icons that (trigger warning: literal graven image) are embossed shiny metal everywhere except a little window through which is a painting of the person's face.)
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
2016-03-09 03:16 pm

1 Corinthians 3:15

NIV: If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

This is what I grew up with and has been burned into my mind. The fire is bad, and you escape it by the skin of your teeth.

So imagine my surprise when I see Fr. Stephen quote it: If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. and then come up with the following?
First, it is clear that he is speaking specifically about the Judgment, for he calls it “the Day.” And what fire is this that reveals on Judgment Day? Is it not the eternal fire? And, how is someone saved by fire? For clearly, some are. Who is not saved by fire?

This verse should rightly puzzle us. Particularly that “but he himself will be saved…”

Of course, there are many who will say, “He’s only writing here to Christians.” This fire that burns and saves – is it the same fire that the “wicked” enter? If it doesn’t save everyone it burns, why not?
Emphasis mine. We are not saved from the destruction of the fire, but rather the fire in destroying saves us.

I went and looked at some other translations:

King James: If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Young's Literal: if of any the work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; and himself shall be saved, but so as through fire.

Darby: If the work of any one shall be consumed, he shall suffer loss, but *he* shall be saved, but so as through [the] fire.

KJ21: If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as fire. ("Why not become pure flame?")

Most of the more reliable names on BibleGateway say "as through fire" or "as by fire". I'm assuming the Greek has whatever the Greek for ablative is and no explicit preposition.

I am wrong. It is "dia pyros": εἴ τινος τὸ ἔργον κατακαήσεται, ζημιωθήσεται, αὐτὸς δὲ σωθήσεται, οὕτως δὲ ὡς διὰ πυρός.

"saved as through fire"... it *can* mean someone escaping the flames, but what pre-existing pagan myth of passing through fire could Paul be referring to if not?
After death, the gods transformed him into an immortal, or alternatively, the fire burned away the mortal part of the demigod, so that only the god remained.
Thetis attempted to render her son Achilles invulnerable. In the well-known version, she dipped him in the River Styx, holding him by one heel, which remained vulnerable. In an early and less popular version of the story, Thetis anointed the boy in ambrosia and put him on top of a fire to burn away the mortal parts of his body. She was interrupted by Peleus and she abandoned both father and son in a rage, leaving his heel vulnerable. A nearly identical story is told by Plutarch, in his On Isis and Osiris, of the goddess Isis burning away the mortality of Prince Maneros of Byblos, son of Queen Astarte, and being likewise interrupted before completing the process.
(I was under the impression that there were two heroes and only one of these happened to Achilles. Nope, it's both.)

Meanwhile, the entire first page of Google for {ancient greek rituals passing through fire} is about child sacrifice, which I was certainly not expecting!

But it doesn't change the fundamental type-and-shadow theory, even if the first result is an expressly Scripturally-proscribed example:
Early modern scholarship tended to accept the Biblical and Greco-Roman accounts of child sacrifice at face value, although there were early suggestions that the biblical account might refer to a symbolic practice, among them an essay by John Selden of 1617 with the suggestion that the phrase h'byr b'sh lmlk "making to pass over the fire to Molek" might have entailed a februation (purification ritual) rather than human sacrifice.
(tangential interesting point: In 1841, both Georg Friedrich Daumer and Friedrich Wilhelm Ghillany published influential works on the topic. These authors came to the conclusion that the Biblical text reflect an original identity of Molek and Yahweh, and that the cult of Yahweh grew out of that of Molek by the abolishing of human sacrifice. The authors find numerous instances of vestigial references to human sacrifice, most notably the law that all firstborns must be "consecrated" or "given" to Yahweh (Exodus 13:2, 22:28). Relatedly, I can't help but notice how little time Jesus spent rebuking the Sadducees rather than the Pharisees - it seems close-but-not-quite is worse than not close at all.)
Firewalking has been practiced by many people and cultures in all parts of the world, with the earliest known reference dating back to Iron Age India – c. 1200 BCE. It is often used as a rite of passage, as a test of an individual's strength and courage, or in religion as a test of one's faith.
The article also mentions that this is done by Eastern Orthodox Christians in Greece and Bulgaria - the only Christian group on the list. Also of interest: reference to judicial trial by fire.

I feel like I've missed some big ones as well (the alternate water/baptismal story of Achilles is implicit in the above). Thoughts?
vaecrius: The blocky spiral motif based on the golden ratio that I use for various ID icons, ending with a red centre. (Default)
2016-01-10 07:21 pm

Knee-Deep In Death: Weapons

About time I started jotting down some of these thoughts that have been in my head about this.

Basic premise: The original Doom games (Doom 1 and 2) are a divinely inspired allegory of a man's repentance from sin.

As all pale shadows of the Truth, this is not a perfect analogy: in particular for this first post, no weapon in Doom is strictly necessary (except rocket against Icon of Sin).

(I should note that this does not work with the lore in Hideous Destructor at all, unless one were to assume an extremely unreliable narrator in the setting fluff I've written for it (which granted isn't too off base).)


There is much to be said for this - the basic plot, the aesthetic, the progression and changing appearance of the levels (especially in the first game, (as far as I can tell at the moment) getting weaker with each new official IWAD), even the monster designs (I am assuming that things represented as demonic influences in the game are exactly that, or at worst they are temptations in this world and our own brokenness) - but it's an unchewably big enough bite that this first post will only be one tiny nibble: a brief summmary of the role of each weapon.

Read more... )
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
2015-11-14 11:03 am

Re: Re: Re: Production

Further yet again to my garbled... garblings (as clearly there was no muse inspiring me in any of that), here is something by people who have done a much better job. Content warning: endorsement traditional Christian views on gender and sexuality, which may well include the ones you, the reader, consider terrible and hateful, or make you think of same )
There's a lot more and to quote all the good stuff would be to quote almost all of it. Little of it may make much sense outside of Christianity, or at least it won't make sense within modernity (while possibly making a good deal of sense in some pre-modern pagan societies).
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
2015-10-28 02:04 pm

Memory lane 3 months before limitation date

In response to this comment:
I’d be very interested in the atheist-to-orthodox “take” on this sort of discussion.
I'm not even sure if I count, since I was brought up as a Christian before I became an atheist (de facto in my teens, explicitly in my twenties), but it did get me to try to articulate just what might've been going on in my head in the months leading up to my visit of St. John of Shanghai Orthodox Mission on the evening of February 1, 2014.*

Read more... )

*a date that I've always remembered as January 30 or 31 until I checked the day of the week just now. The reading of the life of St. Brigid I remember more distinctly.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
2015-09-21 12:03 am

Prayer over a dead animal [preliminary draft]

[Include this paragraph if there is any chance that someone may believe you are heretically praying for the salvation of the animal's personal soul. Which is usually.]
I do not know, Lord, and am unworthy to inquire, what plan of salvation you may have for this creature. But I beseech You, who in Your unfathomable wisdom have made even Your sinless creation subject to futility in hope of salvation from corruption into Your glorious freedom, to extend all such mercy You have planned for that with which we have had this privilege of sharing Your gift of life.

[Include this paragraph if we were responsible for its unnecessary death.]
Forgive us, Lord, in our haste and our brokenness, poor and unprofitable stewards of these Your gifts, and ever guide us to repentance that we may do all things in accordance with Your will.

Lord Jesus Christ our God, bless this Your creature in accordance with its kind, as it returns to its dust whence it had been brought forth from Your living earth, that all your creation may be restored to the joy of Your salvation, O Resurrection and Life, in Your everlasting mercies with Your unoriginate Father and All-Holy, Good and Life-Giving Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

[Written for want of anything remotely resembling such an occasional prayer in either the little red Antiochian prayer book or the green Ancient Faith prayer book, and the total inappropriateness of attempting to use any existing prayer for the dead as a base.]
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
2015-09-13 09:14 pm

Physite analogy

Suppose you had a red circle and a blue circle of equal size.

Then shortly after the circles are taken away and you see what looks like a dark purple circle, the same size as the first two.

It is labeled "woog".

There are 3 interpretations of what woog means:

1. A third circle that is dark purple in colour, made from the original two circles.
2. A third circle that contains both the original two circles.

Now you have some people who insist that what we're seeing is
3. The original two circles overlapping each other.

These people never, ever use the word "woog" to describe it.

Each group thinks the following: )

Without reading the cut text if possible, does the second interpretation mean the same thing as the third, and, assuming you can't move any of the circles or look at them from the side or otherwise measure depth, how would you be able to prove it either way?
vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
2015-08-28 01:33 pm

Hump-and-dump Humpty-Dumpty. In hell.

And so we trudged along the frozen waste.
We found a wall of stone, ten feet in height,
Rough from wear and carelessness, easily clomb.
Stains, and a great stench, covered it--
Rotting, sulfrous protein, slime and shell.
Bubbling I heard: not below, but unseen.

Read more... )
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
2015-07-19 07:22 pm

Fountain of Immortality

This is an excellent video for anyone who wants to know what goes on during the Sunday morning service in an Orthodox church.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
2015-07-10 05:00 pm

Re: Re: Production

Following up on these garbled musings after a night's at least two nights' sleep.

This gets BADLY rambly. There is no organization because I do not even know what my thesis is, which is one of the implicit questions I am struggling with, and thus cannot delete something as irrelevant to such a thesis. )

2015-07-12 EDIT:
The distinctive role of the person of the Theotokos in God’s plan for the salvation of humanity is the source for the empirical, typological symbolism according to which the liturgical function of women in the plan of divine οἰκονομία is parallel to the work of the Holy Spirit, while the liturgical function of the male is parallel to that of Christ.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
2015-07-07 04:33 pm

Re: Production

First, a passing thought:
A good design is seamless, unified, harmonious, whole. A bad design is fragmented and arbitrary, its elements stuck together ad-hoc with no consideration as to how one flows into the other. When the intelligent design researchers (and what they do is genuinely, legitimately research - I say this as a barrister and solicitor) look for signs of design, the usual formula is to isolate a harmonious design, deny the existence of its effective cause within creation, and conclude therefore that God must have done it. This is to deny that the effective cause is part of the harmonious whole, and to claim that there has been some kind of unnatural severance within creation. In other words, the signs of flaws and corruptions of the unified design of the original. If these are the signs of the Designer we seek, then that designer is not the One who designed causation for our use, Who is everywhere present and filling all things, Whose designs are at all friendly to us.

And now, have some cave worms (note: taxonomically not worms) to cleanse the palate.

According to this study, if you're white, male, well-educated or in the scientific "in", you are more likely to believe GMOs are safe. Or, rather, distrust increases the further you move out of this inner elite circle. There appear to be no controls for socioeconomic class. Am immediately reminded of Lewis' critique of Man's power over Nature being ultimately the mere power of some men over others.

Relatedly, I'm not the first to compare our economic system to a Paperclip Maximizer. The only real debate is just what is analogous to paperclips - mammon itself, or consumer products.

And now for some less short-form reblogging...

Fr. Stephen Freeman posts a trilogy of posts about sex and gender.

In case the blog is ever moved and the pictures are lost again, here are the pictures the accompany each:cut for spoiler - their best impact is when you read each article itself )

All three are well worth reading. That said, one quote struck me in particular:
In all discussions of our gendered existence, Christians must remember that male and female are eschatological images – they are images towards which we are moving, not givens according to which automatically live. The male who is not self-emptyingly male, is not yet what he shall be nor what he should be. The female who is not self-emptyingly female, is not yet what she shall be nor what she should be. And, of course, our situation is still more tragic and broken. For some, the experience of the energies of our nature is changed – whether through the brokenness of genetics or nurture. They are not yet what they shall be nor what they should be. We share a tragedy that is common to all humanity.
This is incomprehensible without an understanding of what Blessed Mother Maria Skobtsova was getting at in her reflection concerning the emulation of the Mother of God. It also provides, in my experience possibly for the first time, a framework for how we should approach masculine and feminine identity and prescription, in a way that finally relates to the theology of kenosis and the Cross (beyond the way in which all suffering so relates).

This leaves, of course, the content open: just what is male and what is female kenosis? Mother Maria's analysis is tantalizing, providing enough to offer a start to the dialogue but leaving nothing close to a clear, yes-no-depends method of recognizing either or both in another.

I'm starting to understand how Thomas Aquinas felt.

One possible answer: the distinction, outside of biological functions, is more descriptive than prescriptive in that if we simply follow the Way the means of that expression will make themselves known. But why then are there any commandments aimed at consciously maintaining the distinction?

Then Dana comments on Part 3 referencing a book called "Flight From Woman", and another hint suggests itself: every known effort to create a genderless society has only succeeded in creating a misogynistic society. Whatever the reason for it, it just happens that in our civilization the male is unmarked and the female marked, and to try to reform society such that everyone conforms to neutral the obvious thing to do (given the mindset of the revolutionary who is typically also an iconoclast) is to purge that which is marked. The requirement to maintain the distinction - especially in the New Testament where the early Church was going up against the gnostic heretics - may be (inter alia) a safeguard against that evil, which would be toxic to (again, inter alia) anyone who would otherwise have sought salvation through the feminine route.

I say "anyone" at the end of that paragraph. I do not believe in a strict individual (lit. individuus) binary where being on one side on one thing necessitates being on that side on everything else to the exclusion of the other. To believe in such exclusion would be to deny that any woman can carry her Cross, or that any man can be pierced to the heart by the sorrows of another - a denial both theologically monstrous and obviously untrue in experience. One of the most liberating and beautiful things I've found about Orthodoxy compared to Western theology is that to say X is Y is not to imply, in the absence of a genuine contradiction, that X is not Z.

But then how are we by (prescriptive, theological) nature male and female, but not all androgynous (~male and female created He every one of them~)?

Perhaps to all these statements should be added "without limitation", as the lawyers do. Are we each created, then, to find only the highest fulfillment in only one of the paths, however great our works may be down the other? We might, instead, speak not of paths but aspects, or abilities and potentials, or differing gifts of grace, or even statistics in an RPG (tempered, of course, by the constant remembrance that without God our works are nothing).

Or perhaps another test question is: which is worse off: a woman devoid of the feminine and a man of the masculine, or a woman devoid of the masculine and a man of the feminine?

I offer a very crude example.

The former (failure of own gender's virtue):
  • a group of men. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others lash out angrily and bitterly, say all manner of evil against whoever they feel may be responsible, fail utterly to bring consolation or solve the problem.
  • a group of women. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others do not know how to handle it and leave in shame.

The latter (failure of other gender's virtue):
  • a group of men. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others do not know how to handle it and leave in shame.
  • a group of women. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others lash out angrily and bitterly, say all manner of evil against whoever they feel may be responsible, fail utterly to bring consolation or solve the problem.

If both are equally bad, then this gives us no reason to believe that humanity is not fulfilled by total positive androgynity; if the former is worse, then that supports what we are taught.

This is increasingly becoming a matter of "I'll know it when I see it", without any ability to formalize what is going on. The Thomist understanding frustratingly remains.

Will hit Post for want of a logical conclusion.
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
2015-05-19 05:50 pm

There's another blog out there for another Orthodox convert metalhead named Matt.

The main difference is that his is actually worth reading. (If somewhat bare of Heavy Weapons Guy references, but that's probably related.)

Two articles worth mentioning:
A ‘free’ China, for him, is emphatically not ‘free’ in a bourgeois capitalist sense, nor even ‘liberated’ in a Marxist sense. It’s fascinating to see an intellectual, reckoned a ‘leftist’ in Chinese discourse, defend certain non-teleological and anti-modern Confucian political ideas and understandings as necessary for China’s continued ‘modern’ reform and development. Dr. Wang himself is likely quite aware of the irony; the reason he eschews the term ‘left’ to describe himself, after all, is because he feels a terminology imported from a Western revolutionary context has very limited traction in a Chinese one. ...

My own interest in China stems from the fact that an immensely long body of civilised tradition – a body which goes back, with few interruptions, for 3200 years – is brought into a constant, disruptive and disorienting contact with the most frantic, brutal and unvarnished forms of modernity. And unlike in other nations – like Japan or Korea – no serious attempt is made to paper over or downplay or explain away these violent juxtapositions. No soothing political noises are made to the effect that one can have a society grounded in Confucian values that is at the same time fully integrated into a value-demolishing global economy. Tradition has not yet been reduced to an ersatz of itself in the service of modern ideologies.
This dovetails well with some cultural observations I've made myself over the years, including where Chinese capitalism seems to avoid certain Western vices while exacerbating a few others. (Glaring example: the sometimes hilarious disjunct between the concerns of modern, updated Canadian estate and family law, the product of two generations of jurisprudence from post-industrial, post-sexual-revolution liberal gweilo litigants, versus what goes on on the ground with the majority of Chinese clients of similar socioeconomic status.)
Like Solovyov, Mencius recognises that human beings have the distinction of moral feelings to separate them from animals. And Mencius’s account of the ‘four beginnings’ bear an uncanny resemblance to Solovyov’s basic moral feelings. Mencius’s ‘sense of shame’ (xiu’e zhi xin 羞惡之心) and Solovyov’s are identical. His ‘sense of compassion’ (ceyin zhi xin 惻隱之心) is directly analogous to Solovyov’s moral feeling of ‘pity’. And his ‘sense of modesty’ (cirang zhi xin 辭讓之心) is somewhat culturally-coded into a Chinese mentality, deferring honours and rewards out of a knowledge of one’s place in the social fabric, but there’s enough of an analogy within that cultural coding to be drawn to Solovyov’s feeling of ‘reverence’ to be, at the very least, interesting.

(this last one is not the best quote by a long shot. The entire thing is well worth reading.)