Dismal theology-related tweet for the day

The all-important takeaway here is, whether the perspective is divine or Satanic, you’re weak and no damn good. So STFU and do as you’re told.

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Quote for the day

“A guy basically went mad, right there on the stage in front of you, and you cheered and booed right on cue because you’re sheep and because he directed his insanity at all the scapegoats that your favorite radio and TV personalities have been creating for you over the past three decades.”

Charles Pierce

Nobody who sat through last night’s speech, and who is sane, could have failed to understand that Trump is not sane, that his hatred of the press is real and goes all the way into his bones, or that he is an actual existential threat to the country itself.


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A Holy Man explains the eclipse

Albert Mohler devoted the greatest part of today’s radio broadcast to the solar eclipse.

This is where Christians understand, for just one example, that the predictability of this kind of eclipse is only made possible because God to his glory fine-tuned the universe in such a way that there are predictable laws and principles whereby the movement of celestial and heavenly bodies can not only be measured, but also predicted.

[ … ]

But going back to all those explanations offered, especially in theological terms by ancient cultures, I simply have to say at the end of the day its more plausible that the demon dog ate the sun than that it just happened. But the sun wasn’t eaten by a demon dog and the sun and the moon weren’t fighting and it wasn’t just an accident. Once again, as we have seen from the moment of creation until the dawn of the new creation, the heavens are telling the glory of God.

But, of course, for most of the world nothing whatever happened. Nothing. Only some of us in the United States got to see it.

Really, it did “just happen,” and for only some of us. If you really want to understand what Mohler is up to here you need to acquaint yourself with Nietzsche’s The Antichrist.

With severity and pedantry, the priest formulated once and for all, down to the large and small taxes he was to be paid (not to forget the tastiest pieces of meat, for the priest is a steak eater), what he wants to have, “what the will of God is.” From now on all things in life are so ordered that the priest is indispensable — marriage, sickness, death, not to speak of “sacrifices” (meals), the holy parasite appears in order to denature them — in his language: to “consecrate.”

For one must understand this: every natural custom, every natural institution (state, judicial order, marriage, care of the sick and the poor), every demand inspired by the instinct of life — in short, everything that contains its value in itself is made altogether valueless, anti-valuable by the parasitism of the priest (or the “moral world order”): now it requires a sanction after the event — a value-conferring power is needed to negate what is natural in it and to create a value by so doing. The priest devalues, desecrates nature: this is the price of his existence.

I, and probably scientists and engineers everywhere, felt a thrill of pride at the extraordinary precision of the predictions. Human minds reached an understanding of what was once a terrifying event and, after a lifetime devoted to holding men in the bondage of ignorance, Mohler wants to annex the credit for his Invisible Friend. Nice try, Holy Man, but no cigar.

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Unhinged

There is no nice way to say it: This evening’s speech in Phoenix was unhinged. And the escalation of his attacks on the press is scary. I’ve wondered for a long time whether his pro forma hostility toward the media is something genuine, or if it’s merely theater for the bleachers; this evening’s obsessive vehemence convinced me it’s real, that he feels genuinely aggrieved and means to use his presidential power to destroy them.

He will fail, but there is going to be a lot of ugliness along the way.

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Eclipse thoughts

Like a lot of people in the south, I spent much of yesterday afternoon watching the eclipse. Unlike people who turned to various methods of divination, however — astrology, Bible reading, on and on — I wasn’t trying to parse a message from the cosmos. No. I was thinking about what yesterday demonstrated about the progress of science, and hoping that teachers across the country were taking advantage of it.

Astronomers predicted the path of the moon’s shadow — its location and extent and speed — with extraordinary accuracy. The disc of the moon began to impinge upon the sun exactly when predicted, and it obscured the sun exactly when predicted.

That’s quite the trick, don’t you think? After all, the earth is constantly spinning, and traveling a long arc around the sun, and the moon constantly arcs around the earth. To be able to say exactly when the moon would slide between the earth and sun, and exactly how it would appear from any particular location on the earth, needs for us to know a great many things — the path of the earth around the sun, the speed of the earth’s rotation about its axis, the path of the moon around the earth, the distances separating all the moving parts …

I am sure that thousands of schoolchildren looked up at the sky yesterday and marveled at the sight — and many of them, surely, felt a fierce hunger to understand it all. I hope that when they did they were in the company of good teachers who would encourage them and assure them that the world is a knowable place and not, as in Carl Sagan’s estimable phrase, demon-haunted.

At some time in man’s shadowed, long-ago past, a prehistoric man or woman looked at the night sky and realized that the sky had looked just like this once before and that then, too, the days had been long and warm. Perhaps it was the straight line of Orion’s belt that triggered the memory, or the bent “W” of Cassiopeia. No matter; somebody looked at the sky and thought, “I have seen this before, and at a time like now.” And with that there would have come recognition that there is regularity in the cosmos, a predictability, that the world is not entirely random. The immensity of the thought must have been staggering — and so, too, the difficulty of explaining it to others. What words would one use, when such words had never been needed, when the underlying insight was a paradigm shift in the understanding of reality itself?

The details are lost to us, but it ought to be counted one of the greatest, most fruitful moments in human history.

We know it happened, that the thought was successfully conveyed, for there are ancient observatories on every continent but Antarctica, massive arrangements of stones that point toward the solstices. Understanding that there is regularity in the cosmos, men began to study it and exploit it and predict the seasons. In some cases, the boulders must have been transported for miles, so we know that building the observatories was work of great importance.

On July 4th, 1054 A.D., a star exploded. For about 2-years, there were three great lights in the sky — the sun, the moon, and the supernova. We know this, because Chinese and Arabic astronomers noted it. There are cave pictographs in North– and South America that portray it, as well. When the fire diminished, the remnants of the explosion (still burning) became what is known today as the Crab Nebula. There is only one place on earth where no pictograph of the event has ever been found, where there is no museum or library containing a single scrap of paper to suggest a direct observation of the event — and that place is within the boundaries of the world then governed by the Roman Church.

Then, as now, the guardians of revelation are the enemies of human knowledge and progress, for their authority — their power — relies upon the ignorance of others. If I believed in prayer, I’d be praying that awestruck students inspired by shrewd teachers will continue the work of turning back that darkness.

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