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: 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: 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 stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
2015-10-15 06:00 pm

Snaking Floor (preliminary ideas)

A co-operative board game similar to "Sorry!" or snakes-and-ladders but where the goal is to endure as long as possible. Mostly inspired by Killing Floor.

I should probably rename my RPG tag... )
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: 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.)
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
2014-12-03 12:24 pm

Passing thought

Progress is, in many ways, a modern myth and a rhetorical device by which Modernity doesn’t have to give a reasonable account for its failures. Everything’s in progress so no matter how bad we’re doing, “we’re improving.” And, as we’ll see in an article I’m working on now, everything that doesn’t agree with this is simple “like something out of the Middle Ages…” That is, able to be dismissed as not even belonging to our own time period.

This technique was used repeatedly by the colonial powers in order to justify their wholesale rape of other cultures – and continues to justify the wholesale rape of many traditional cultural values in our own land. It should rightly (and accurately) be compared to the repeated 5-year Plan justifications of the Soviets, for whom wholesale slaughter and genocide could be justified by Marxist progress. The Brave New World has almost destroyed the inhabited earth several times within the last century.

We had plagues and infections. Now we have obesity, diabetes and cancer.

We had cripples and the lame. Now we have crippling debt and the overqualified unemployable.

We had slaves that we owned and had to feed and care for. Now we have indentured workers who have no ability to exercise their theoretical choice to stop working, that we have no responsibility for and can throw away at any time - rented from no lessor.

We had soldiers who would burn down and depopulate inconvenient villages for us and send the survivors into slavery. Now we have corporations and gentrifiers who enslave first, and backhoes and law enforcement to do the rest. (Admittedly, the killing is now kept to a minimum, or at least a reasonably slow trickle.)

We used to live at the mercy of the weather and the elements, which at any time may destroy all that we hold dear. Now we live at the mercy of stock prices, market forces and the politics of government regulation.

We used to live in regular dread of famine. Now we are in danger of the entire world becoming unable to produce food and we don't feel a thing.

And now an idea for that far-future thing:
ancient alien race lives for tens of billions of years fleeing dying star after dying star, with only survival in mind. they attack earth, and capture a saint for interrogation. they torture him to death over the course of a year trying to get "the truth" out of him, about what humanity "really" is, and the result drives the torturers insane in a reverse Lovecraft scenario. someone picks up the transcripts and disseminates them to all public channels, sending ruin among the stars as the ancients destroy themselves in a nihilistic orgy of violence. we take their ships and infrastructure, learn to replicate it and use our newfound habitable planet indices and FTL travel to colonize the galaxy. we never learn how the FTL actually works and after the initial wave there is a gradual deterioration until everyone is isolated again.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
2013-09-05 09:20 am

More theorizing, and other things: Two binaries

Before everything else, if you read nothing else in this post, take a mental health break. It will break your mental health in all the best ways.

Riotous Eater of Flesh

A carnivorous tribal warrior-race from ______, a sweltering, ecologically volatile forest/ocean planet revolving around a yellow giant deep in the Orion Arm. Naturally resistant to damage and poisons, they have no claws or venoms of their own but rely entirely on things fashioned from available materials or forcibly extracted from other beings. Most of their brain matter is optimized towards problems of food, weapons and territorial displays, with a small non-reproductive caste dedicated to inquiries not directly related thereto. Capable of some limited hivemind-swarming, partially coordinated through their otherwise primitive displays.

Their homeworld rotates on an unusal axial tilt that is just enough to create significant climate differences on the surface while preventing any part of it from being permanently frozen over the year; it is speculated that their natural aggressiveness created a need to rapidly spread out across their world and adapt to its numerous varied climates and sources of nutrients. Their legends say that the planet has been subject to several mass extinctions in the past, apparently the last one perpetuated by these creatures themselves.


The reverse furry's face would lack the muscles and coordination necessary to form human expressions, and its eyes would have almost no visible whites.


Two dichotomies have been on my mind about what realities exist for us:
  • Transcendental, Institutional Real, Arbitrary

  • Personal, Impersonal

By transcendental real I mean like a rock: no matter what you say, it - or at least the underlying matter constituting it - is still there. (And if what you say is "You with the jackhammer, break this rock and clear our path", the resulting multitude of rocks and dust remains.) There is underneath the surface perception that, if known, becomes a connection to a greater world beyond our subjective interpretation.

By institutional arbitrary I mean the fact that we would call a certain composition a rock and not a pebble, gravel, lava or dust.

Generally, to say it without making an authorial value judgment, people will prefer the personal over the impersonal.

I would rather not imagine a society of people who would categorically value the institutional arbitrary over the transcendental real, rather than valuing the latter as the important one and the former as a necessary evil to be tolerated. A predominantly urbanized, industrialized subculture with an economy where the biggest commodity is information can get very close to such a thing.

The world of the rationalist is transcendental real and impersonal. The personal is relegated to a separate universe, a multitude of isolated wills that observe and act upon a mechanical, passive it that constitutes our (however grudgingly) shared environment.

The world of the ancients, with their gods and ancestors and karma and appeasements, is personal and institutional arbitrary: it's all about who you know, and the what eventually follows.

The core of Christian belief, immediately beneath the Resurrection, is of a transcendental [let's keep "transcendental" here for what follows] personal Reality that is the only true and self-sufficient one over all the others.

Following a childish, Manichean logic, h Hell would then be on the opposite corner: institutional arbitrary and impersonal, a fungible anonymity in which love is literally nonsensical (not merely dismissed as irrational for being against self-interest) in which everything is dictated by arbitrary merely institutional, unaccountable systems of deeming and pretence that are real only in the injustice and suffering they create. A modern, comprehensive bureaucratic state is often invoked as an example, though there are less immediately brutal implementations.

A frequent apparent contradiction, that God made "the world" good but "the world" is also a sordid mess ruled by Satan for the malefit of all, is resolved when the references are understood to mean two distinct worlds on opposite corners of this simple grid.

Following a more traditional distinction, t The remaining two corners aren't that lovely either.

Anyway, here's a thing about how guns work:

[2015-11-11: Made some long-overdue changes to the terminology names. (Short words beat long ones.) Mostly motivated by Fr. Stephen going along similar lines.]