Headline of the day

Andy Borowitz scoops the world — again

Bezos Says Amazon Drones Ready to Deliver
Mueller Report to Every American Household

Amazon drones stand “ready and waiting” to deliver copies of Robert Mueller’s official report, free of charge, to every American household as early as next week, the Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, confirmed on Wednesday.

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Back in the ol’ hometown, ctd

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The Bible in public schools

What do you know? Once again, there is an effort afoot to teach the Bible in public schools.

The Missouri House Special Committee on Student Accountability voted to advance a bill from a Republican state lawmaker pushing for Bible classes in public high schools.

The bill, introduced by state Rep. Ben Baker, would require Missouri education officials to develop guidelines and standards for courses on the Old and New Testaments that could be offered as electives in public schools.

This is a more difficult issue than it might appear at first glance.

“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”

Alfred North Whitehead

Christianity is a grab-bag of ancient philosophical schools — intellectually, a mongrel. Plato’s idea of ‘forms’ is the ground of Christian metaphysics since the 5th-Century, stoicism appears in its ethics — but so does a fair amount of mysticism, and the Old Testament is shot through with political skulduggery. There is a great deal of World Net Daily-like propaganda and lies in the Old and New Testaments. This should not surprise anybody who is even modestly conversant in the history of the Bible; after all, it was written over the course of more than a thousand years by dozens of different authors reared in different environments and political circumstances.

What is more, the battle over which texts ought to comprise the Bible persisted for centuries (Catholics and Protestants have different Bibles), and there are contemporary battles over which translations of the Bible are valid. And, of course, no human in the history of the world has even held in his hands the Inerrant Bible, the original autographs of the texts which comprise that troublesome compendium of ancient philosophy, history, poetry, and porn.

And yet, in spite of the acute difficulty with even defining and identifying the Bible, that ridiculous old book has exercised a tremendous influence over the development of the West — chiefly because the bulk of mankind are cowardly simpletons, and the Catholic Church was, and is, amoral and ruthless in the maintenance of its power.  Auto da fe, anyone?

It isn’t difficult to make the case that a sound historical perspective, the ability to properly locate current events on a timeline of human thought, requires some understanding of Christianity and its holy text — the Bible.

The difficulty is that is never — Never — the real purpose of introducing the Bible into public schools; it is to smuggle Sunday School into public classrooms. So … No, thanks.

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Quote for the day

There is not enough love and goodness in the world to allow us to give any of it away to imaginary beings.

Friedrich Nietzsche
Human, All Too Human, §129

Nietzsche was not only one of the most clear-headed thinkers of his time — till he went off his rocker — he also is one of the very few philosophers who can be read simply for the pleasure of the prose and the incisive observations.

It probably is worth remarking that every publisher in the universe has issued an edition of Nietzsche’s works, most of them relying on translations so old that they are in the public domain — and cheap to produce; some of them are good, and some are very bad. The Barnes and Noble editions are generally well-regarded and affordable.

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Blockbuster ‘scoops’ that aren’t

The New York Times is making much of its verification that the Catholic Church has written protocols for dealing with priests who father children.

Now, the Vatican has confirmed, apparently for the first time, that its department overseeing the world’s priests has general guidelines for what to do when clerics break celibacy vows and father children.

“I can confirm that these guidelines exist,” the Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti wrote in response to a query from The New York Times. “It is an internal document.”

The Catholic Church is the oldest continuously operating business on earth, and has been dealing with the problem — embarrassment, mainly — of priests’ illegitimate children for 1000-years. Why is it a surprise to anybody that the personnel manual addresses the matter?


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