Friday, 31 December 2010

Tron: Legacy makes a point about the nature of evil

Saw Tron: Legacy.  Like the reviews say, it looks pretty cool (for about 20 minutes) and the music is even cooler, but it really fails on the story level.  You don't care about the characters at all, or like them much.  And nothing they say sounds natural or convincing.  And their success or failure doesn't mean anything to you either way.  Also, Hollywood?  Every villain can't just be Adolf Hitler.  That's getting very old.  There are many flavours of evil, and many evil people to draw inspiration from.  The throngs of people in perfect rows, shouting and wearing black suits with bits of red?  Seen it.

But I could watch a movie with Olivia Wilde's eyes in it for quite a while(d).  And her freakishly wide, alien-beautiful face. Some of God's best work.  (even in a "1920s flapper hairstyles are so futuristic!" wig)

One thing that interested me is that they got The Nature of Evil down perfectly.  From Milton and Dante on, the motivations for characters like God and the devil and angels and so on have made no sense at all.  In the bible, it is very clear that God is the source of all creativity, the spirit which inspires (inspires: gives ideas, gives life/a spirit, breathes in) and is the source of all creativity.  He is the Creator with a capital C, who makes enough kinds of butterflies, beetles, berries and fruit, that Dylan Moran said in his standup routine "fruit is just God showing off.  Saying 'Look how many colours I know!' "

In the bible, God creates, and He destroys.  He destroys stuff that's been created and which is not working out, isn't growing, is going in a bad direction.  He does this so He can replace it with other, newer and better stuff.  The bible suggests He's already got His plans together for Earth Mark II, once we've fully wrecked this one, because we're dumbasses and because He's always coming up with new ideas.

Equally clear is the role of Satan in the bible.  He is from Accounts, from the bean-counting division.  He delights in meaningless time-wasting, traditional, bureacratic, systematic ritual orbiting an empty core of nothingness.  He tattle-tales, accuses and lies about people.  He tries to make God give up on people through his "Oh, that guy's not so great.  If you hadn't made him rich he'd be a right bastard.  Can I take away his wealth and prove my point?" nonsense.  He does not have the best tunes.  He does not improvise fun, innovative and unique riffs on the fiddle better than a human being.  He does not create Hollywood blockbusters, heavy metal and Harry Potter "to lure children."

No, he's the one saying "Oh, you can't call it Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.  Kids will never read a book with 'philosopher' in the title.  No kid will ever read a book this size anyway.  Give up.  Kids these days don't read.  They're all retarded.  And you're just not good enough.  Who do you think you are?  You're wasting your time and will never connect to anyone.  Doubt, doubt, doubt.  Be realistic."

He's the one telling Kevin Smith "Moby...which?You can't have a character reference Captain Ahab in this movie's dialogue.  It's about teenagers.  No one knows who that guy is.  I have an MBA and I don't know who that is.  And we need some tits in the film as well.  See to that. And get a token black character to say 'Sheeeit.  This just got real' and a funny gay sidekick."  In the bible, Satan doesn't so much destroy people and things as he gets other people and things (or the people themselves) to do it for him.

The slow erosion of health, sanity and functionality seen in demoniacs portrayed in the bible?  Shells of people left empty by parasitic things which slowly wear them down to nothing?  We'd recognize that in anyone who is addicted to something like crystal meth or crack.    You take a perfectly sane, healthy, living, breathing, thinking, feeling creature (a creature is a creation of a creator, of course) and turn them into an inert wreck that's not long for this world.  (the picture seen here is of the "Bob" character from the show Twin Peaks, which is partly about how this parasitic spirit erodes Laura Palmer by childhood trauma, molestation, drug addiction, promiscuity and so on until eventually the erstwhile prom queen becomes a worn down, soon-to-be murder victim who finally seeks death)

And yet, in the work of Dante and Milton and other idiots who can't get their character motivations to add up, Satan is actually God's trusted employee, stationed in Hell where he's in charge of things, and job #1 for Satan is making sure that sinners are properly punished, because We All Know how much the devil hates sin and the people who...wait?  What?  That makes no sense.  At all.

In the bible, of course, Satan is wandering around free in our fucked up world, making sure it's getting increasingly fucked upper, which it looks to be getting.  He doesn't seem to need a ouija board or talisman or that kind of thing to exert influence here.  He is here personally.  And there are a myriad people doing his work, appearing as pious, religious, successful, upstanding people, who then screw up other people's confidence, self-image, dreams, health, sanity, welfare and lives.  This voice can be heard every time someone says "Be realistic.  You can't do that.  And besides, you're a weak person, and a bad person whom no one likes.  You'll never amount to anything."  (Satan's work is certainly being done in classrooms across the country.)  Some people succeed anyway.  The message to them is a bit different: "You don't have to help other people, because you're better than they are.  Also, somehow, you are worse than they are.  Have fun.  You deserve it.  Also, you deserve to lose everything because you're a bad person.  This makes you miserable.  Try heroin.  And hookers."

The message is also "If you want to be OK, you need to be more or less like us.  Lacking originality, creativity, imagination, empathy and hope.  Being idealistic is cute, but ultimately fatal in the end."

In Tron: Legacy, Jeff Bridges has (partially) created a virtual world.  He makes a digital version of himself while still young, foolish and ambitious.  He calls it Clu.  Eventually, Clu goes all Hitler and starts enacting genocides and trying to stamp out impurity.  Jeff Bridges' character tells his son something I remember as "Clu can't create.  He can only destroy or re-allocate existing data and programs."

C.S. Lewis said something like that too in his sci fi trilogy.  Good isn't just the counterpart, the opposite partner of Evil.  Evil isn't Good turned inside out.  It isn't a case of Good creating good stuff and Evil creating evil stuff.  It's Good creating, building and destroying and rebuilding, and Evil not creating a damned thing, but instead corrupting, warping, eroding, inhibiting, nitpicking, accusing, judging, backstabbing, devouring and trying to make doubt win out, all while Good is at work trying make things that can last.

So, the bible does not present a black/white, yin yang universe with good and evil, creativity and destruction needing to both exist, being equal complimentary opposites.  In the bible, good actions and intentions can create or destroy (or both), while evil intentions are not well-rounded like that.  In movies like The Matrix and Tron: Legacy, Creator/God figures are always dressed in white and live in big white featureless rooms and zone out a lot when they're not saying enigmatic things with a little smile.  Good is passive, gentle, inactive, boring, uninvolved and "zen."  It has no real capacity to destroy, or even to get involved, except in a purely advisory capacity.  Evil, on the other hand, is witty, sardonic, exciting, fast, active, mobile, innovative, charming and dangerously cool.  It is completely involved. In everything. Tends to wear cool black outfits too.

But in the bible?  The guys dressed in white (the "angels of light"), shining nobly and pointing the finger at people screwing up and judging them to be failed, guilty screwups?  A common guise of the devil (and his minions), walking around seeing who he can get to listen to him and fostering feelings of entitled superiority (and closed-hearted judgmentalism) in the rich and successful.  Evil devours the innocent and makes sure the guilty get no forgiveness.

By contrast, walking around with dirty feet treating whores, drunkards, homeless people and thieves like human beings and listening to their stories while dissing the religious establishment?  Jesus.  He doesn't judge adulteresses, thieves and drunkards.  He judges religious leaders only.

Characterised by "thick blackness," fire, smoke, a sword that leaps out of His mouth and cuts people to the quick if necessary, terrifying eyes that devour in flames everything they see?  God.  God, it seems, is far more "heavy metal album cover" than anyone wants to depict.

In the bible, God is, obviously, behind all creating/creativity/creative expression. Some people's efforts fall a bit short, but He wants them to succeed.  God is a creator and a destroyer.  Creations are usually to express something deep that was in the heart of the Artist.  We are no exception.  Satan is only a defiler of good stuff, a poisoner of wells, an accuser of people who are trying to get by, Grima Wormtongue whispering your own inadequacies in your ear, a cancer, a rot.  He tries to tempt God to repent of having made people and things, and get Him to make/let entropy flood back in and make chaos of it all.  God, for His part, likes good things to last.  Even with music and movies, stuff that is any good at all, tends to last.  No matter how hard they market the shit out of utter crap, no one's even going to remember to try to keep selling it fifty years later.  And stupid little shows that people loved and no one wants to sell anymore? They last.

There are four books of the bible about Jesus walking around just being a guy.  When he wasn't helping people out, he was repeatedly pointing his finger and disapproving and judging.  But it was always the same guys he was pointing at: the pious, religious folk who judged everyone and made them feel guilty and demanded accolades for their piety (which is what they were really in it for), and the exploitive rich, who had the law on their side like trained attack dogs, keeping them rich and protecting their ill-gotten gains from poor people who the law will keep poor.  He and fictional characters like Robin Hood would have agreed about a number of things.

Chistianity: Is It All Pretend?

To the average atheist (and many an agnostic), Christianity is all pretend.  That is to say they feel it's simply about people pretending stuff that isn't true, and isn't real.  Don't kid yourself.  To them that's what it really looks like.  To me too, much of the time.

Christian communities can be absolutely about people who, without even being aware of it, are unthinkingly trained to pretend:

-not to have any serious doubts about things that, if they thought freely about them, they would find important doubts that need to be explored
-to smile when they don't have any real urge to smile.  A lot.
-to like people they don't really like.  Also fairly often.
-to care about stuff they don't really care about, because they care enough (about seeming like caring people) to fake it.
-to feel whatever religious feelings the others around them are claiming to feel, whether they are, or not.
-to be at peace and not have unanswered questions they aren't getting answers to.
-to be offended by things they really aren't offended about at all.
-to enjoy things they don't like.
-to not be angry when they are.
-to be humble when they aren't.
-to be hopeful when they aren't. 
-that God told them to do various things.
-that the bible told them not to do various things that it didn't.
-that the bible is full of nice things, and that Jesus was nice and went around being nice and not saying anything much that wasn't nice. 

The really bad thing about this pretending stuff thing is that it gets very competitive, and it's also tied into shame.  This adds up to something pretty serious. Among other things, it adds up to people being willing to settle for pretence, or to give up on real spiritual growth.  It adds up to people making an idol out of  "nice."  It adds up to people unable to deal with true, real people or things, getting together into groups to play let's pretend.

And it doesn't have to be like that.  If God and Christianity needs us to pretend stuff, then they aren't worth anything.  But they are.  Don't take my word for it, either.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Christian Radio Rock?!

(More use of mockery to make a point in a memorable way, like Elijah etc.  Clearly I don't believe that it's bad to mock things, so long as they're bad things.)  

For some reason today when someone on Facebook linked me to a video of Christian music about how AWEsome it is to be in church with other church people doing church stuff, I clicked upon it. After hearing the first part of it, for some reason I then decided that I just HAD to record an all-new song I would write in that style today, to try out all my new equipment. I did all this this afternoon. It has two acoustic guitars, two distorted electrics through a tube amp, two shakers, two tambourines, a bass guitar and a bunch of very raw voices trying to sing at the top of their range. I think it sounds fairly like church/Christian radio music. I used the traditional four-chords-hit-song chords. It is possible my B.C. Rich Warlock is rocking a little bit TOO much for the (Christian Radio ear candy) genre.

I don't normally try (unsuccessfully) to sing like Nickelback's stinkmerchant Chad Kroeger, but apparently it is part of doing this right. Careful listeners will notice this song is, true to form, much less a holy tribute to Jesus than it is wholly about the fictional song-writer's paying tribute to (idolizing) his own wonderful wisdom in making a wise choice for Jesus, his playing a role in his kickass Christian community, and above all things, his own magical BELIEF, which is why Jesus loves him to begin with (Jesus loves him because he believes in Jesus instead of the other way around). Turn it up real loud and believe.

Monday, 20 December 2010

James Earl Jones: Dark Lord of the Scriptures

OK, this video I made a week ago got just over 200 hits in the first 24 hours of it being up, and is just shy of 600 hits in the first week.  That's pretty successful for me and YouTube videos. I found that James Earl Jones had done an audio book of the King James bible. He is the voice of Darth Vader, so it wasn't hard to make Darth Vader say things Jesus said instead of his own lines.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

"Yeah, But Am I Right Or Am I Wrong?"

I think America and modern Christendom are being torn apart by polarized thinking.  (That's "Right or wrong?  Black or white? Yes or no?" thinking.)

Our society works very much along "legal or illegal?  Innocent or Guilty? Elected or not elected?  Voted into law or not voted into law?" lines.  Real life doesn't often work like that.

The Mona Lisa: right or wrong?  Me: hero or villain?  

That kind of thinking just doesn't make sense in most daily situations.  It's a crazy way of approaching things.  There needs to be middle ground.  There needs to be, not shades of grey, but a full spectrum of colours between black and white.  There need to be three dimensions.

Someone who was busying himself by judging my approach to bible interpretation on Facebook recently said he was going to have to stop replying to my comments regarding his judgements of me (to express his outrage and take a Firm Stand against the sort of opinions he was in danger of hearing and perhaps even understanding).  I told him that there were colours, nuances and degrees in the bible, and that it was largely about them.  He said he could not possibly continue talking to someone who thought that there were "shades of grey" with God and the bible.  It was all black and white or else it wasn't worth doing, apparently.  Had the man not seen how many colours of butterflies, berries and flowers God seemed to feel were a good idea to make into viable organisms?  (or "Evolution, in its manifold, omniscient wisdom, caused to come into existence" if you don't believe in God).  The real world has colours.  Lots of them.  Very little is either one thing or another.  The answer to most simple questions is "Both.  And neither.  Kinda.  And other stuff."

So, when you read a book and you have any respect for the author at all, you don't make the book a slave to your own cause.  You don't make it a Thing which provides black and white evidence that You Are Right About What's Wrong.  You don't say "Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn: eat carbs or pursue a low carb diet?"  You don't say "Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist: For socialized healthcare or against?"  You don't say "Shakespeare: insightful crusader for human rights, or obvious racist?"

(well, you do that if you want to make a bunch of people have to take up extremely polarized views so they can write essays that demonstrate their ability to provide evidence for and clearly word one-sided arguments.  But not for anything real.  In the real world, you listen to hear what the author wants to say, rather than "making" him or her "take a position" on whatever you're thinking and wondering about.  Because "Being French is like..." isn't nearly the same thing as "Being French is wrong.")

Yet in the case of a powerful, broad, deep, rich, globally-influential work of art like the bible, people leap to enslave it, without even thinking twice.  They put it to their own use rather than let it be itself and say what it says. And "their own use" is always stuff like "Homosexuality: nothing wrong with that or an abomination?"  "Gun control: essential to running our country, or a sign of the end of the world approaching?"  "Obama: a new hero for civil rights, or Man of Satan?"  It's a bit of a case of:

"Do you properly adhere to Ezekiel 4:3, second half of the verse (read in Harold Camping's own personal translation of the torah)?  Then of course you vote Republican, support capital punishment, invasion of foreign countries and anti-flag burning laws, and you likewise oppose abortion, gun control, socialized medicine and Harry Potter."  A package deal.  Black?  Line up to the left.  White?  Line up the right.  You'll be given your political views as you enter the next room."

And in their personal lives, people sometimes do this: "Do you love me more than anyone on earth, or do you hate me and never want to see me again?"  "Is this the perfect job for me, the first step forward in my career, or is it a huge miss-step?" 

Well, the bible isn't written like that.  (Neither is life or reality or most art.)  Consequently, it doesn't read like that.  It says things which require not only colours of interpretation, it has what a guy named Frank whom I talked to yesterday calls "necessary tensions."  It requires you to think "Yes, this thing, but also at the same time, another thing to think about, which thing provides a bit of a counter balance to the first thing" and gives you deeper questions, rather than pat answers.  It really does and all.

For example: a number of times on Facebook when I've said something about the bible, the "Christian" response has been to simply call me a fool and then very carefully not engage me in an actual discussion of any kind, but to carefully return abuse for any points made rather than trying to respond to them.  The best way, Christians feel, to call someone a fool is to quote the bible (while ignoring biblical warnings against calling your brother a fool.)  They go to Proverbs 26 and answer my comment by saying "Answer not a fool according to his folly" (and generally skip the "lest thou also be like unto him"). When this happens, I usually feel compelled to point out two things:
a) they have answered me
b) the Very Next Verse In The Bible says this: "Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit."

Now, as Wikipedia quite correctly said when I read it the other day, in Proverbs, a "fool" isn't a stupid or silly person.  It is not a Shakespearean clown or court jester.  In Proverbs, a "fool" is someone who won't listen.  It's someone who does things that don't work, yet won't change his or her ways, nor listen to people pointing out the unworkability of his or her approach.

The individual proverbs have a very consistent structure.  Here's how to make your own proverbs in the safety of your own home:

The wise (or "righteous" or "diligent") man _does something good_, but the fool (or "wicked" or "slothful") man _does the opposite of that__.

(If you are a woman, don't worry.  Women can be fools too, as we know from television.)

So, you can (like my friend Mark) drive your wife nuts by saying things like "The wise woman turneth down the heat when she is not at home, but the foolish woman leaveth it on in order to raise the electrical bill."  She, for her part can respond "The righteous man drinketh not an entire bottle of Jack Daniels of an evening, but the wicked man did that just last Thursday."  I'm afraid when I gave this exercise to my high school creative writing class, one young lady's proverb, quite, unlikely to take off in synagogues across the globe, was "The righteous man shouteth 'SURPRISE' first, but the wicked man just starts raping."

In fact, now that I think about it, let's use the comments part of this very blog to submit some proverbs we think up ourselves.  Let's really do that.  I want to see them.  (The diligent man shall write parables for this blog, but yea the slothful man shall surf porn or look at cute animal videos on YouTube instead.)

So, this Proverbs thing actually looks pretty polarized, doesn't it?: the righteous man, the wicked man. The wise man, the fool.  Black and white thinking, right?  Thing is, the book of Proverbs is actually not designed for diagnosing foolishness or wickedness.  It's not for checking to see if you are a fool/or not, nor even for giving a "Steven Jackson is 93% fool today! Click hear to take this quiz to!" score, Facebook style.  It's a nuanced description of how a wise man, a righteous man, a fool or a wicked man act (and interact) in various ways, so you can aspire toward wisdom and righteousness.  It adjusts attitude, which any sailor or pilot could tell you, refers to the direction in which you are heading, and therefore, where you'd likely to end up.  It's not a "yes or no" book.  It's a "What does wisdom look like?  How does it work? What does wickedness look like?  What are its effects?" thing.   It's about moving in a given direction, and paints a picture of reality, and not merely about making a judgement or diagnosis.

In The Garden, Man wanted to know good and evil, and stole to get that knowledge prematurely.  Thing is, any kind of genuine relationship with Go(o)d would have given him both an understanding of good and what it(He) was like, how it(He) worked and how to take part in that.

It's like Albert Einstein offered to teach him physics and instead, he sneaked into Albert's office, stole his "What students need to be able to do to pass my course" rubric, and then ran away to Borneo in shame, after seeing that, one week into the course, he couldn't do all the stuff he needed to demonstrate mastery of in order to pass.  (mastery is better than knowledge)  Knowledge (information) isn't as good as understanding either, clearly, because understanding reaches toward actual wisdom.

So, Man ends up with a binary "Good?  No.  I'm bad." mechanism guaranteed to have human beings walking around for the rest of human history craving people's judgements that "You're such a good person!  You're OK and I like you!" and cringing under any criticism.

So Proverbs is a depiction of a world (our world, actually) that is chock-full of wisdom and foolishness alike, of righteousness and wickedness, all going on at once and mixing and interacting, and is a booming invitation to turn more toward wisdom and righteousness and move a bit more in that direction to make it better here.  It is not a diagnostic tool. (Fool?  If you pee on the book of Proverbs and it turns blue, then you are foolish and should speak to your doctor immediately)

Interestingly, righteousness and wisdom do not seem to, according to Proverbs, involve a lot of judging other people and being pious and prissy, and separating from the pack to make one's righteousness known and not get any foolishness/slothful/wicked cooties on oneself.  They don't either seem to involve being a positive role model and good example, and taking public stands against and protesting positions, people or views.  They do seem to involve, above all things, a positively bones-deep, wholly shame-free, insecurity-absent humility born out of a genuine understanding of how much of the fool, how much of the wicked man, are in a wise and righteous man.  They seem to involve knowing that the difference between these two kinds of people is very, very little when you're looking inside a person, yet the result of the difference is, to the world outside of that person, absolutely huge

This sort of thing drives black and white thinkers nuts.  Is it saying to never try to correct a fool?  Or is it saying to always try to correct a fool?  Is Jim a wicked fool or isn't he?  And what about his wife?  Well, both, and neither, kinda, and other stuff.  Proverb is explaining what's at risk.  If you get into an argument with a fool, you inevitably end up sounding a bit foolish (if the argument goes how arguments with fools usually do tend to go.)  That might be OK.  You might want to do that, if you get what's going on and feel it's a good idea.  You also might not want to do it.  If you don't correct fools, of course, they don't have the chance to learn better, and to stop being so foolish, and people may even take them seriously, or put them in charge of things and imitate their foolishness.  (as we know  from who gets to run things at our jobs.)  And people might get hurt.  Including the fools.

So, the bible is very confusing to black and white thinkers.  Doesn't stop them trying to break it into bigot-sized pieces to reassemble, of course.  They can't just let it talk for more than half a phrase or so, but have to quote very carefully excised snippets of it to make sure it serves their ends and doesn't embarrassingly, confusingly present the opposite dimension as well, or suddenly go on about something which just doesn't seem on-topic, as it were.  It seems to go off-message quite frequently, particularly when we've picked out an extremely important message for it to address.  It clearly says that doing certain things are bad, and then it just as clearly shows God choosing to work with and promote to positions of responsibility (including kingship and priestship) people who have just done or will go ahead and do those very things.  It equally shows people who don't do those bad things at all getting nothing special from God, developing no relationship with Him, getting no growth or success added to their lives and then being whiny assholes about it.  

Cain murders Abel.  And he gets to live and invent and play music and build a city and have a family and be protected by God from retribution while he does all of this.  Jacob cons his father and brother and gets to be the patriarch of the nation of Israel, which barbarous, violent, bigoted tribe God chooses to support and turn into a conquering country.  Paul tries to have all the new Christians imprisoned and/or wiped off the face of the planet.  He then gets to write most of the New Testament.  (Andrew didn't do anything even remotely genocidal, and he actually hung out with Jesus for three years and saw everything happen.  Where's his book of the bible?  Who even remembers that he was one of the disciples these days?) The prodigal son takes his father's money, abandons the family business while going abroad with funds that could have helped it, spends it all on whores and booze and drugs, and comes back and there's a big party and he's forgiven by his father who loves him and doesn't even put him in his place or give him a big lecture.  The older brother who works hard, on the other hand, is a whiny asshole who isn't even told there IS a party, let alone get invited to it. I mean, who wants HIM there, right?

What kind of morals do these stories seem to have?  What kind of positive messages are they giving to children?  "Do the right thing and be honest and hard-working.  It will turn you into a whiny asshole."  "Go ahead and screw up.  You can always ask for forgiveness later, and God seems to prefer screwups to other people, as far as the bible indicates."  "Obey God.  You may die if you do, but do it anyway.  If you don't, of course, He'll probably get great use out of you as a travelling guest speaker."

Another example: the bible seems to indicate that God intended sex and relationships to work a certain way.  He seemed to want people to never suffer death, to never suffer the loss of a loved one through death, or through them cheating on or abandoning one.  He seemed to want couples to work.  He seemed to never want there to be a cheating nor a broken heart.  He seemed to want the world to be full of children with parents who looked after them and loved them and didn't tease them over-much and taught them how to be adult human beings, and were not cruel to them nor abandoned them.  But then there are guidelines for how divorce was supposed to go.  And there is stuff about widows and orphans and how they are to be looked after.  And stuff about how to treat, and how to be, good slaves.

There's stuff about not cheating on your spouse, alright.  Then Jesus is asked by some religious busybodies "Punish by stoning/not punish by stoning?" when they actually catch a woman having adulterous sex and drag her to him to see what he'll do.  Jesus does his thing and expresses boredom or disinterest in the debate (doodling on the ground and not looking at them), and then when they simply won't drop it, says "Yes.  Punish by stoning.  Whoever is sinless himself can throw the first stone."

What are we to take from that?  Is Jesus clearly coming out against adultery?  (yes/no?) Is he saying capital punishment is right? (yes/no?)  What is he saying?  He's saying "Both.  Neither, kinda.  And also other stuff."

I recently said something to a young person who was hell-bent on reading the bible in terms of  "Never mind all of that.  Does the bible say it's wrong or that it's right?  The bible says it's wrong, right?"  She was quite determined to put an end to a discussion of anything the bible said besides "yes/no" and not willing to see it saying "yes" in one place and "no" in another and "Both, kinda.  And neither.  And other stuff" throughout.  What I said to her was this: "If you look at everything in the bible through that black and white, yes/no lens, you simply won't be able to understand anything that is being said in there by anyone who isn't looking at things in that precise way.  And a whole lot of it just isn't about answering your right/wrong, yes/no, black/white questions." (this of course is true of any work of literature or art, or person or argument)

I know a lot of people who think it is the work of any serious reader of the bible to "reconcile" what Frank calls the "tensions."  Judge or judge not?  Right or wrong?  Black or white?  Answer a fool or answer not a fool?  Women are to be silent and have no public, vocal role in church stuff (like being Bishops or popes), or "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus"?  Marry and have kids, or "it is better that a man not touch a woman"?  Work and look after your family at home or go do big world-changing things across the globe?  Fight wars to protect the innocent or embrace pacifism?  Speak up or be silent?

These are tensions.  They are meant to exist in a world with light and dark, heat and cold, desert and ocean, earth and sky, sun and moon, night and day, north and south, male and female, and so on.

And so I think that quite often the answer to these "Reconcile this! Which is it?" questions is "Both.  Neither, kinda.  And other stuff."

Comprehension question: Is this Linux penguin black or white?  C'mon... which is it?  (There can, of course, be only one right answer, and if you aren't clear on which it is, I simply cannot talk to you anymore.)

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Understanding Technology: The Book

There was an awesome little video on YouTube apparently from a Norwegian comedy show.  It had English subtitles, but was still in Norwegian, which makes it a bit harder to kids in a classroom to relate.  So, I made a "crappy high school technology video from the 80s" style video of my own, presenting the book as if it were a new piece of technology.