vaecrius: The blocky spiral motif based on the golden ratio that I use for various ID icons, ending with a red centre. (Default)
(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)

This is an excellent video for anyone who wants to know what goes on during the Sunday morning service in an Orthodox church.
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
We Don't Go There At Night
Rules & Guidelines:
  1. The story text should be the only text in your comic.
  2. Use the text any way you like.
  3. Your comic can be as long or as short as you choose, in any medium, on any subject.
  4. Your comic must be spooky.

The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling by Ted Chiang
We don’t normally think of it as such, but writing is a technology, which means that a literate person is someone whose thought processes are technologically mediated. We became cognitive cyborgs as soon as we became fluent readers, and the consequences of that were profound.
A thing that needs to be read. Fiction, if I recall.

Eating indigenously changes diets and lives of Native Americans
History and health came together one dark November evening for Marty Reinhardt at Northern Michigan University.

Reinhardt, a professor in the Native American Studies program, was helping to serve up fry bread, Indian tacos and other offerings at the annual First Nations Food Taster, a fund-raising event for the Native American Student Association, when he had an epiphany: “Would my ancestors even recognize this as food?”

Much has changed between Reinhardt and his ancestors. Indians have long since been removed to reservations, and diets based on seasonal hunting, fishing, gathering and gardening have been replaced by government-supplied commodity foods. Indians have suffered a crisis in diet-related obesity and health issues.

These disparate threads converged that evening in the Lake Superior port city of Marquette, Mich., as Reinhardt, of Anishinaabe Ojibway heritage, turned his question inside out, “I wondered if I could eat what my ancestors ate.”

The spark of curiosity soon evolved into a formal, university-sanctioned research study, the Decolonizing Diet Project — a year-long challenge to eat only foods that were in the Great Lakes region before 1602. The initial food challenge ended in March but the research into indigenous diet continues.
I remember during one of those days on campus in September where various clubs had their stands and one of them was the First Nations Law club and they were giving out free fry bread. I remember quietly politely accepting, but being less than impressed in the end and wondering what had been lost. The memory of that flavour is vivid, as is my post-dinner memory of my mother's very Chinese, very good cooking, and it is that contrast that makes me pay so much greater attention to this article.
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
First, to soften you up for the link that follows, proof that there is a God.

First the parted stream of ants, now the River of Fire.

In which someone finally explains a non-retributive model of Hell to me in a way that doesn't feel like a copout. Incidentally, it occurs to me that it is precisely the stakes posed by Pascal's Wager that I am far less inclined to believe in God than I am to believe in, say, electrons. (Actually I've often gone by the reverse Pascal: if such a God really did exist and I am damned, I'm happy to let my one lasting achievement be the eternal defiance of such a manifestly evil tyrant.)

tl;dr (and it really quite tl): I was brought up with the idea that God made Hell to punish God's creation for disobeying God's rules and that God had to kill Jesus/himself as a proxy to save us from Hell because our disobedience was so horrible that someone had to be killed to satisfy the blood debt; I thought this was either bonkers or barbaric (a Christian might use "pagan" here) and am happy to learn that there's an entire tradition of Christianity that feels similarly and has a coherent alternative.

See also: and comments thereon

Also: Curiously, wonderfully optimistic quote of the last week:
If we, the faithful, who are sinners, who are unworthy and who with our frequently ungodly lives give reason to people to criticize and fight Christianity for two millenia have not yet managed to destroy it, then I am confident that no outsider really stands a chance.


Even though we drink nothing but tainted milk powder, we still must kill all the Japanese.
Even though we consume gutter oil everywhere, we still must brandish our knives and slay the dwarf pirates.
Even though all we eat is meat laced with clenbuterol, we still must send troops to destroy [those who inhabit] the Eastern Sea.
Even though every day we are "represented", but we still must regain the Diaoyu Islands.
Even though in our old age there's no one to take care of us, we still must occupy Mt. Fuji.
Even though are old homes are forcibly demolished, we still must capture Ai Fukuhara alive.


And speaking of pirates, here's a small but hopefully important and lasting victory against corporate raider scum.
[42] Mason says TELUS is participating in a smear campaign. It does not matter whether Mason’s primary purpose is to exit profitably from its arbitrage plan. Shareholders invest with a view to a profit and it matters not how Mason intends to profit.


[109] Mason argues that the problem of empty voting is irrelevant. The question of conversion ratios is a legitimate issue that affects all Common Shareholders and is something that should be discussed. Mason’s interest is aligned with the interests of the other Common Shareholders, in that both Mason and the Common Shareholders have an interest in being compensated for the historical premium paid for Common Shares. Mason further argues that s. 167(2) leaves no room for the court to look behind a shareholder’s voting interest in shares into their true economic interests or purposes.

[110] I cannot agree with Mason’s submissions on either point. While the issue of conversion ratios is indeed a matter of legitimate concern to all Common Shareholders, it is of overriding concern only to Mason. Only Mason stands to profit if the price differential between Common Shares and Voting Shares increases. And only Mason is indifferent to the overall value of TELUS itself.

[111] The fact that Mason shares some interest with other Common Shareholders does not mean that its interests align with those Shareholders in a broader sense.

[112] Nor does s. 167 oust the power of the court to consider the reasons underlying a requisition. Section 167(7)(d) specifically contemplates an investigation into the motivations behind a requisition. And s. 186 gives the court broad discretion to make orders relating to the calling, holding and conducting of meetings “for any ... reason the court considers appropriate.”

[113] That said, in light of my findings regarding the validity of the Requisition, it is unnecessary to consider whether the Court ought to exercise its jurisdiction in this case.
Appeal to be heard in a couple weeks. In barbaric South Nation terms, let's hope the appeal result is more Roe and less Kelo.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
Before getting to the dump: does anyone know how to block specific users and groups from showing up on your Network page? I'm sure the nice folks at [community profile] milliways_bar are having a ball but it's just drudgery to have to wade through all those posts to find something that actually engages me.

Beware the "intelligent" designer.
Without physical stuff to remind us of how we supposedly differ from one another, our hierarchies would be awfully ramshackle; stripped of our possessions, categories like “class” start to look like just a bunch of learned behaviors and confused ideas. Whether prohibitively priced cars, gendered garments, or separate schools for blacks and whites, social hierarchies are always maintained with the help of physical objects and spaces designed to reflect those hierarchies. Otherwise everyone’s claims of superiority and difference would be quite literally immaterial.

A thing which is to be read. It is about people.
First of all, both of these flatworms are hermaphrodites. They don't have penises, but organs that deliver sperm. Also, the flatworm who gets pregnant is hardly a "loser" — every insemination is a form of "winning" for both parties, since both will now pass along their genetic material to a new generation. It's likely that the first scientist who called this mating act a "fight" was projecting human gender stereotypes just like our character in Left Hand of Darkness did. If penises are drawn, it must be a fight! Because men have penises and they fight! Right.
Would be nice if this could be taken as true on face value, but given one of the parties has to waste all that time and resources on the gestation process I see no reason why they wouldn't end up trying to avoid it, with the main selective pressure being avoiding it too well leading to an evolutionary dead end on a local group level.

A thing about a thing they've since said they'll postpone for another 5 years in the wake of the mass outcry.
That educational program may be effective. The tone of Internet postings in China these days is often fiercely nationalistic with regard to Chinese territorial claims in the East China Sea and South China Sea. The Japanese coast guard’s arrest last month of activists from Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen who had landed on an island claimed by China but controlled by Japan touched off anti-Japanese protests in Chinese cities.

I would like to rebut this with an analogy. Imagine, as an American, Romney winning this year with a Republican supermajority and all the electoral reforms kick in, and the next four years the GOP institutes enough major changes to civic procedure such that you basically have to fit all the GOP demographics to vote; by the end of the second term of Romney's successor America is generally considered a one-party state, as a mass exodus of people continues towards urban holdouts close to either border. Imagine that, in, say, 2042, this one-party America experiences two events: 1) the federal government announces the introduction of a mandatory "Real American Values" class for kids in Washington, California and New York; and 2) the same federal government downplays and tries to ignore the arrival of a Neo-Soviet Russian naval patrol over Anchorage.

Now imagine you're a typical liberal, freedom-loving, latté-sipping concerned parent in Seattle living in all this. How do you feel about each of these events?
(more here, here and here.)

And more of the other thing:
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
This particular total opposite of the ME3 ending has been sitting in my background tab for too long.

Crayon Dragon from Toniko Pantoja on Vimeo.

vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
Also apparently strikethrough doesn't show up in titles, not even as the tags

So they did a study confirming what we all ought to know. Key: ought.

Related. Sometimes I guess even nature can take a high road.

Or all the roads.
All the roads.

The beetle always wins. In almost 400 face-offs, the amphibians only managed to get the larvae in their mouths seven times. Even then, they soon spat out the larvae, which quickly turned on them (first video below). One toad even managed to swallow a larva, which moved inside its stomach for two hours. For some reason, the toad eventually regurgitated its catch, and the larva, apparently unharmed, killed and ate the animal that had just eaten it (second video below).

And then nature comes up with the typical RPG player character.

With that in mind:

ABC monsters from La Pompadour on Vimeo.

vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
The photographs in this picture gallery may look like they been Photoshopped or assembled with dead insects, but the ants in these images are very much alive. Russian photographer Andrey Pavlov spends hours setting up fairytale scenes. He studied ants, and saw that they all follow a very specific path when they’re working. So he put his props on their trail, and photographed the insects interacting with his miniature 'stage sets'.

Every summer he moves to a cottage in the countryside to photograph red forest ants in fairytale settings. He says: "When I had children and started reading them fairytales, I realised it was something I never did as a child. That's when I decided to make up for it and start creating some fairytales of my own."
More here.
vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
The date of this post marks the anniversary of an attack on an unarmed civilian population by a terrorist organization that hates freedom and hates fears our way of life, so infamous it can be referred to by nothing more than the numbers marking the date of occurrence. Never forget.

First, a music video because I do not link to enough music videos on here!!!

Report on the aftermath. I don't think anyone who normally reads this understands Cantonese so I'm just linking for the gist of it. Some bits towards the end that won't be in pictures: reports of burning bodies by the troops. They (the govt) say it's just the dead troops or something??? Wounded being finished off, journalists blocked from hospitals.

Footage during. Not even shot with a phone.

And here's a historian studying the history of the event, with the rare privilege of having been a part of it.
vaecrius: The blocky spiral motif based on the golden ratio that I use for various ID icons, ending with a red centre. (Default)
Under the bridge on my way to work.
vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
The murders

The anticipated treatment (and yes, I am saying that Myers' dismissal of all Pakistanis is no better than if I were to dismiss all Americans in such vein)

Documenting the coverup

Some further discussion. Everyone join me in asking him to unlock it :V - ultimately I'll respect the lock and only quote my own comment therein, without supporting context:
I am reminded that the great danger of aggression is alienating actual (and, as a distant secondary consideration, reasonably likely) allies, but the great danger of non-aggression is forgetting what the great danger of aggression is and appeasing people not because they are useful but because one fears them.
The simple problem is that one side has no moral norms about hurting innocent people and inciting violence against other Americans, while the other side when threatened at gunpoint will throw down their own gun and, while still at a distance of about twenty-two feet*, stand straight up and loudly challenge their assailant to some gentlemanly fisticuffs.

The other end of the problem being - and this was my other comment which is much harder to understand without context, hence the summary - that the last time those of us on the left endorsed the use of the Ring, the orcs took over.

*Slightly less lulzy discussion here. A lot less lulzy, really:
"Unfortunately, some officers and apparently some trainers as well have 'streamlined' the 21-Foot Rule in a way that gravely distorts its meaning and exposes them to highly undesirable legal consequences," Lewinski says. Namely, they have come to believe that the Rule means that a subject brandishing an edged weapon when positioned at any distance less than 21 feet from an officer can justifiably be shot.


"So long as a subject is stationary or moving around but not advancing or giving any indication he's about to charge, it clearly is not legally justified to use lethal force against him. Officers who do shoot in those circumstances may find themselves subject to disciplinary action, civil suits or even criminal charges."
vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
If there is anything I have ever posted here or on That Other Journal that has merited a sexual assault trigger warning, this is it. For the rest of you, it's funny but less "ha ha" funny and more "ha h-oh eww" funny.

(Spoiler: It's making fun of Touching Sans Appropriateness)

(hat tip blame: [personal profile] flemco)
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
Where the West helps bring freedom to Afghanistan after years of terrible prohibition under Taliban rule, restoring the fundamental human right to oh what the fuck now.

Seriously guys, enough with this Bond villain shit. I think Dark Knight is a bit more apt, but for the lack of inflicting of violence.

I think we can all agree on the basic assumption that this is just cheap-shot grandstanding before some gooey Russian stuff gets out and Putin falls into lockstep, but just like all my relationships I'm just going to ignore that inevitable revelation and enjoy this while it lasts.

I can't help but think... if another 9/11 were to happen at this point, the US will have lost so incredibly much cred that we might as well all just assume it was an inside job this time.

And now, a gigantic geekmusic linkdump, courtesy mostly of [personal profile] steorra and [personal profile] vorzac:
Winnie the Pooh!
More motherfuckin' Mario!
The only Final Fantasy!
X-MEN *_*

I know this

if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.


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