Secrets of a mind-reader

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“It seemed, back then, that every ‘sensible’ and ‘serious’ person you knew — left or right — was for the war. And they were all wrong. Never forget that they were all wrong.”

“I want a humility that affirms the struggles of those who fight for justice rather than trying to shut them down with Bible verses.”

“Focus on understanding why the program is doing what it’•s doing, rather than why it’s not doing what you wanted it to.”

“God came to earth in Jesus in order to experience what God had not previously experienced – human loneliness, human joy, godforsakeness, and death. The incarnation of God in Jesus changed God. God achieved a new perspective.”

“Jesus illustrated love of neighbors with the Good Samaritan, who had the wrong answers (theologically) but the right kind of love. He was the foil for the priest and Levite, who had the right answers but the wrong kind of love.”

Forget all that silly business with clouds and harps. Heaven is full of rooms that look like this.

“Through their gullibility, their lack of discernment, and their lack of attention to Scripture, they have contributed not to the defense of the Christian faith, but to what can only be considered an attempt to undermine it.”

“It can be statement of resignation or a declaration of determination, but either way there are moments when to say ‘f–k it’ is to acknowledge that one has reached a certain crossroads, or an axis in ones life where big decisions will be made. ‘F–k it’ might just be an important theological marker.”

All parties and groups are fractious and bumbling. But everyone always thinks everyone else is efficiently and ruthlessly implementing long-term schemes.”

Perhaps Sen. Paul should read our papers before he comments on them and perhaps he should consider more broadly how science can help society.”

“Somewhere, a young man in an oppressive regime is inspired. ‘Could one day our government be brought to a halt by petty bullshit?‘”

Only a Vulcan mind meld will help with this Congress.”

“All picnics should now be scheduled for two hours, 55 minutes in length.”

“Hey, that Panamanian biologist was right. Oops.”

“… but ‘navel’ isn’t what Solomon said.”

“Honestly, I hope that what I’m looking at actually is Dark Skies. I hope Dark Skies secretly is performance art.”

“So to this day at the World Science Fiction Conventions … no edible costumes.” (see also)

Church Sign Epic Fails: ‘Show Me the Money’”

 

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    On one hand, I want to say that some of those church signs are rather obviously put up with a sense of humor; any organization that relies on donations is going to have to, well, get donations.  You provide services, including a weekly performance, that takes scratch, especially when you have permanent on site staff.  On the other hand, ha ha ha, man some of that passo-aggro stuff is…really messed up.

  • Jim Roberts

    “It seemed, back then, that every ‘sensible’ and ‘serious’ person you knew — left or right — was for the war. And they were all wrong. Never forget that they were all wrong.”
    This is why, for all his faults (and there are many), the lead-up to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars made me a fan of Ted Rall.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bobby.herrington.1 Boze Herrington

    Thanks for the caption underneath that picture, Fred. I live in the Charismatic world, where books and thinking are often viewed as suspect and I’ve been told that as a writer I have an illegitimate calling. I used to spend an obsessive amount of time wondering whether or not my beloved books would “make it through the fire” of God’s purging when He cleansed the earth.

    This was not helped by the visions and teachings of Charismatic leaders like Rick Joyner, a self-proclaimed prophet who had a very famous series of visions (printed in “The Final Quest”) in which he interviews various people in heaven (Martin Luther, Martin Luther’s wife, William Branham). One of them is obviously supposed to be C. S. Lewis. Lewis is living in the lowest level of heaven because he worshiped his own intellect rather than God. “I was a shallow person,” he says, “and my writings were shallow, filled more with worldly wisdom than divine truth. When I beheld [Jesus] here, I wanted to grind my writings into powder, just as Moses did to the golden calf. My mind was my idol, and I wanted everyone to worship my mind with me.”

    For years after I read this, in college, I lived in perpetual despair that one day all my own writings – and most of my favorite stories – were going to be destroyed because I and the writers I had grown up reading had been proud and ambitious. It was tormenting.

    Relief finally began to come a few months ago, when – ironically – I read a story about C. S. Lewis in one of Peter Kreeft’s meditations on heavens. Lewis had a fairly extensive library, and someone once asked him whether he thought he would have any of his beloved books in heaven. Lewis said, “Only those I have given away.”

  • Carstonio

    Imagine if Heaven looked like the Room of Requirement.

    Dumb question about church signs – some radio stations use gag services for their DJs. Do some congregations use the equivalent, like denominational newsletters that have a listing of sign ideas each month?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I’d love to instantly have any book I wanted to read.  :D

  • Buck Eschaton

    I first began to read Rene Girard during the build up to the Iraq War.  It all made sense. The false accusations, the scapegoating, the rituals, the constant use of the “Hitler” and “WWII” imagery, like they were trying for a ritual reenactment of WWII, except without FDR of course.  The need for total agreement, the anger that it caused if you disagreed with the “reasons” for war.  It was all a lie.

  • MaryKaye

    I would prefer to think that an all-powerful and benevolent God would fill every soul with “as much light as it could hold” and that Heaven would be blessedly free from “I’m better than you, ha ha.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/thatjeffcarter Jeff Carter

    Thanks for the link.

  • flat

    You know I can imagine Lewis being perfectly happy in the lowest level of heaven: it means he can study in peace and silence, without getting bothered by those self-proclaimed prophets who don’t understand it anyway.

  • Jim Roberts

    Tithe barns are an actual thing. They usually aren’t used for this purpose anymore, but it was where a farmer would take the 10th of his crop that belonged to the church. There are few of them in Atlantic Canada, most of them converted into rectories, churches or other ecclesiastical structures.

  • Lori

    I say all this to say that if I regret anything it is my pose of
    powerlessness — my lack of faith in American democracy, my belief that
    the war didn’t deserve my hard thinking or hard acting, my cynicism.  

    I remain unsure how to assess my own beliefs and actions in the run up to the Iraq war. On one hand, I can say with total honesty that I never for a minute bought into the justifications for it, never believed that it was right, never said that I agreed just to smooth things over with war supporters*. On the other hand, I was very cynical about the effectiveness of protest and didn’t do much in that regard in spite of having ample opportunity to participate in large demonstrations. Obviously protests didn’t stop the war. The question I can’t answer is whether my cynicism was correct and no amount of protest would have made any difference, or if protests would have been effective if I and others like me had done more to make them larger.

    *For me it was not true that every “sensible” and “serious” person I knew was for the war. I had family and coworkers who were in favor, but my friends were not. That made life a lot easier for me than it was for many others, since the opinion of my chosen family mattered more to me than what other people had to say. I’m very aware that’s a luxery not everyone had at the time. 

  • Worthless Beast

    I’ve been kicking the idea around in my head that “A god cannot understand mortals until he/she becomes one.” 
     
    It’s something I wanted to put into fanfiction for a favorite videogame series, in which the lastest installment (of the canon games) had “one of the gods becomes mortal” as a major part of the plot, and said mortal-once-goddess, upon having ancient memories come back to her and her finding out out who she used to be – She *hates* her past self for all the suffering her “grand plan” has put her mortal friends and particularly best friend through.  I’ll leave you videogame geeks to guess what game I’m talking about.
    The “Goddess” in said game… seems to be an either you love her or you hate hate her in the fandom, too – because of elements of the plot.  I like her in regards to the humbling element…  I think in the manga-suppliment where she remained Goddess, she was kind of a bitch…
     
    Considering my reaction to the videogame storyline… I think I’ve pretty much liked that kind of theology for a long time to begin with.

    If this double-posts… either Disqus or the adware on this page hates me. And I hate it.   

  • Worthless Beast

    Writing as a lesser calling… all books burned in the “purge?”

    !#$%^&*()^&%^$!#!!!!! - I don’t even! !!!!!

    When I imagine a personal paradise, I don’t just imagine rooms like the one in the picture (which I do), but open campuses, fields, forests, streams teeming with trout… the occasional desert to wander in when I feel like wanding around in a lonely desert… 

    And most people leaving me the Hell alone (Introverts, unite! Or not…)

    This is why I imagine that Heaven, if such a thing is and will be, as subjective for everyone.  There’s the old joke about an angel telling a newly dead person “Don’t open that door, those guys think they’re the only ones here and you’ll spoil it for them.”   – Maybe some people will desire endless church while some of us would rather have tea and talk about our favorite fiction Mrs. Lewis, Tolkien, Poe, etc.

    Also, I get a kitten, a ligthsaber, a jetpack and new episodes of Firefly. That’s the deal we got in an older post.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    It’s enlightening watching US propaganda films immediately post-Pearl Harbor.

  • Jessica_R

    See, if I could be convinced the afterlife had a large used bookstore when plenty of comfy chairs for reading, I might actually darken the door of a church again. 

    And it’s always very funny to see the literalist “THERE IS NO METAPHOR IN THE BIBLE” crowd start to twitch and blush and stammer that *of course* Song of Solomon is NOT about two people who love each other and who really love having hot, amazing sex with each other, not a bit. 

  • Fusina

    I described my view of heaven to a bible study once–in my heaven, there is an enormous world size garden, with beaches and mountains and the Hawaiian Islands, and any time I see a particulary lovely tree or vista, it gets added. No mosquitoes, no ticks,  no fleas, all my kitties back with me, and my puppies too, and deer and squirrels and kangaroos and echidnas and koalas and red pandas and raccoons and possums and any other animals like lions and tigers and bears oh my and every plant you can think of and a few I made up special and benches to rest on and garden “rooms” and mazes and lots of pretty flowers.

    Three people asked if they could come visit.

    I’m adding a tech room to have a spot to set my lightsaber and my DVD player. And I told a friend of mine about the Firefly seasons, and she said there are only ten seasons because they are still filming season 11.

  • flat

    I hope I can visit you as well

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I was against the war from the beginning, and given some of the Bush administration’s previous actions regarding Iraq, the rationalizations they offered seemed hollow.  It was clear that they were itching for a reason to go in.  But my primary objection was that we were still engaged in a ground war in Afghanistan, and had yet to solidify our gains there.  I worried that attacking Iraq in the middle of this would split our forces, and we would be hard pressed fighting on two fronts, particularly if some sudden world event came up which demanded a military response from us and our military was too occupied to deliver that response.  

    However, as much as I doubted that the protests would stop the war, I did think that they had some value in stopping the Bush administration.  Conventional wisdom says that an incumbent administration during a time of war has an advantage during a presidential election, but Vietnam showed us that an unpopular war can be absolutely savage to incumbents.  Raising the profile of the unpopularity of the war would in turn help get out of office the people who perpetuated it in the first place.  

    At least, that was my hope at the time.  

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I’ve been kicking the idea around in my head that “A god cannot understand mortals until he/she becomes one.”

    That is actually a pretty common theme in a lot of games.  Lunar was one example, where the villain felt that by abdicating her divinity, the goddess was abandoning humanity to its own fate, and without the guidance of an absolute authority humans would repeat the mistakes of their past that almost led to their extinction.  Thus, he will either force the goddess back into her divine state, or else absorb her power and replace her himself.  Another example would be from the Forgotten Realms setting of Dungeons and Dragons.  During what came to be known as the “Time of Troubles” the gods were kicked from their  home planes and forced to walk the material plane as mortals.  The game Baldur’s Gate by Bioware explored this, with the god Bhaal, the God of Murder, leaving behind a score of mortal progeny invested with a fraction of his power intended to fuel his eventual rebirth into godhood.  One particular child of his, eventually coming to know his true parentage, decided to kill off the other Bhaalspawn and absorb their power (ah-la Highlander) and set off a great war, that in doing so he might be elevated to become the new God of Murder.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Regarding the “Life Lessons from Programming”, I am a software test engineer by trade, and so I tended for quite a while to look at relationships through the lenses of quality assurance.  If I was having difficulty forming or maintaining relationships, I thought in terms of “This is an interface problem.  What can I do to adjust myself so the inputs translate into better outputs on the other side of the interface?”  

    I did not so much want to “make” people like me, as much as I wanted to make myself more like what other people wanted.  It never seemed to work though, people were very hesitant to share what they wanted (I need to know the desired output before I can determine if a test case evaluates to true or false) and for that matter a lot of people were put off by the idea that I treated myself like some program with settings that could be adjusted.  

  • Carstonio

    I did not so much want to “make” people like me, as much as I wanted to make myself more like what other people wanted.

    I didn’t know about quality assurance in middle and high school, but I tried the same thing. Just as an example, I thought if I watched more football and could talk semi-knowledgeably about the weekend’s games, more of my male classmates wouldn’t accuse me of being gay. The only effect was that I just showed my ignorance of the sport. No matter what I did, there were always kids who accused me of either homosexuality or mental retardation, or who just played cruel pranks on me. My goal wasn’t necessarily to be what other people wanted, but simply to be someone who they wouldn’t harass.

  • Hth

     They were probably also put off by the sense that you were manipulating them.  You may have come at it from a working-on-yourself perspective, but the end goal was to, well, fix the interface problem presented by other people having feelings you didn’t want them to have.

    Don’t get me wrong: most everyone does this, at least some of the time, but there’s a certain art to not making it obvious that you intend to improve other people’s responses.   For some people, the mental model of software engineering may make social interactions easier to understand, but I dunno, in my experience it often comes out as though they’re seeing you as a problem in need of a hack rather than a person with a genuine right not to agree with them, or even not to like them.

  • http://schweinsty.livejournal.com schweinsty

    Okay, I live like 10 minutes away from the McAllen library, and this is the first time in *months* that I’ve seen something about deep South Texas on the non-local-interwebs that hasn’t involved  border patrol/undocumented immigration, drug cartel violence, or illiteracy/underfunded education. That just made my day.

    Also, this library is extra-cool to me because when wally world donated the land/building, they bought an adjoining chunk of land to build their bigger, wallier supercenter next door, so Oil Change Day has now become Drop Off The Car And Go To The Library!!! Day. Which is awesome, even though I’m not otherwise the hugest wal-mart fan.

    /csb

  • Wingedwyrm

    For all those church signs about tithing… I can’t help but imagine that it would help their finances to have a currency exchange situated right there in the church.  Just a thought.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    For some people, the mental model of software engineering may make social interactions easier to understand, but I dunno, in my experience it often comes out as though they’re seeing you as a problem in need of a hack rather than a person with a genuine right not to agree with them, or even not to like them.

    That may be so, and I mus have been clearly miscommunicating my intentions and perspective in that case.  Rather, I saw the other person as the consumer and myself as the product.  If the product is not appealing to the consumer, not meeting the needs that they want met, then I need to go back to the drawing board, re-examine the the design of the product, and alter the fundamentals of it to better meet the needs of the market.  

    I think what turned a lot of people off is that this represented a fundamental devaluing of myself, which is true.  I would have been perfectly willing to annihilate the person I was in order to completely become someone else, just a complete re-write of personality and appearance.  If no one wanted it, what value did it have, so why bother preserving it?  It was kind of like “Last Thursdayism”, I could have been re-created last Thursday with a completely new set of memories and traits, and next Thursday it might happen again, and I did not care.  There was no point in being attached to the self.  

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The impending feeling of doom I had in February and March of 2003 really sucked. I remember listenig on the radio in a friend’s car as he drove me back from university, and I heard the very initial stages of the second war on Iraq. :(

    Also? The fact that Shrub resorted to “He tried to kill my daddy” was just – talk about the feeling of “embarrassment squick”!

    But it showed how transparent his administration was getting in grasping at straws to justify rolling on into Iraq.

  • hagsrus

    I think Heaven would incorporate L-space – all the books that might have been written as well as those that were.

    And perhaps it could be extended to other media. New seasons of Carnivale and Mean Streets, anyone?

    Jeffty Is Five…

  • arcseconds

     Even if they don’t achieve anything at the time, protests are still useful as long-term consciousness-raisers.  It kind of establishes the record that no, this wasn’t unanimously agreed upon.  people can learn from that.

    And if nothing else, at least it shows your grandchildren that you were on the right side.

  • Carstonio

    Any time the US gets involved in a war, I worry that it will escalate into a nuclear one. But I didn’t have as strong a feeling of doom in 2003 as I did in 1991, partly because with the latter I would have been too old for a reinstituted draft. I was afraid of any draft when I was in my 20s. Not because of the danger of dying in a war, but because all-male environments tend to be homophobic. In school I was regularly accused of being gay, and the harassment in basic training would have been far worse.

    I’m still furious with Bush 41 for claiming that Iraq wouldn’t be Vietnam where “we fought with one hand tied behind our back,” a lie that I first heard in the 1970s.

    With Bush 43 I had the forlorn hope that cooler heads in his Administration and in the UN would prevail, because the idea seemed so irrational. He was publicly stumping for an invasion within months of 9/11, and apparently in meetings he was pushing it a day or so after the attack. I suspected that he was trying to jump-start Revelation, but the personal vendetta theory you mention makes even more sense, because both Bushes always struck me as small-minded and petty.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    To be honest, I was very worried about nuclear conflict in 2006-2007 when it seemed like South Asia was collectively saber-rattling. :(

    And now North Korea is up to it again.

  • Termudgeon

    No, the people marching against the war were not all drum-circle beatniks (not that there’s anything wrong with that). There weren’t a lot of us, but ordinary people (and their dogs) marched against that war, because we could tell that the pro-war argument was deeply flawed, as should have been obvious to everybody. Nobody listened then, but that doesn’t mean we should be erased now.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Even if they don’t achieve anything at the time, protests are still useful as long-term consciousness-raisers.  It kind of establishes the record that no, this wasn’t unanimously agreed upon.  people can learn from that.

    And if nothing else, at least it shows your grandchildren that you were on the right side.

    Well, being sterile the grandchildren motivation is moot for me.  However, I actually was right in my idea that the unpopularity of the war would be absolutely brutal on the administration’s popularity.  Unfortunately, that drop-off in popularity was just a little too late to prevent reelection.  But almost immediately after that, the Bush administration’s approval ratings went into a free-fall from which it never recovered.  I guess he still had enough popularity momentum to keep it going just long enough to get four more guaranteed years out of it, if not well regarded years.  

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    With Bush 43 I had the forlorn hope that cooler heads in his Administration and in the UN would prevail, because the idea seemed so irrational. He was publicly stumping for an invasion within months of 9/11, and apparently in meetings he was pushing it a day or so after the attack. I suspected that he was trying to jump-start Revelation, but the personal vendetta theory you mention makes even more sense, because both Bushes always struck me as small-minded and petty.

    Heck, he was dropping bombs on Iraq within days of getting into office.  9/11 just gave him enough support that he could manage a full invasion.  

    In fairness though, I do not think that the elder Bush was so small minded regarding foreign policy as his son.  The Gulf War was intentionally limited in its scope and objectives, and did not try to do more than it had to do to secure U.S. interests in the region.  At least elder Bush recognized that trying to invade and topple the regime of Saddam Hussein would have been an expensive and unpopular quagmire if he attempted it.  His son was… not so farsighted.  

  • Turcano

    I remember watching a wartime propaganda film claiming to enlighten the audience on Japanese culture in one of my Core Humanities.  I had watched Der ewige Jude in one of my German classes earlier in the semester, and there were enough similarities between the two films to make me very uncomfortable.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Indeed. Did you ever see “My Japan” on the Prelinger Archives?

  • Carstonio

    I meant small-minded in general, not necessarily in foreign policy. The Bushes seemed like aging frat boys that didn’t take their responsibilities seriously. Their sense of humor was callous, mocking people who didn’t have their advantages. GWB’s imitation of Karla Faye Tucker was this attitude taken to a cruel extreme, like he believed that governing was just a game.

  • DavidCheatham

    On the topic of ‘Republican talking about wasteful spending what is not actually wasteful’, does anyone remember when Bobby Jindal decided to complain about wasteful _volcano monitoring_?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Vaguely. Clearly he’s never lived on one.

  • Tricksterson

    I’d like to visit oo.  And in return you can visit my library of all the books that were never written but should have been any time you want

  • Tricksterson

    Wasn’t Dark Skies a not very good and shortlived tv seies about how all the historic evnts in the 50s, 60s nd 70s were a result of alien invaders?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The thing that’s telling about GWB is that the sum total, for him, of his Presidency, is that he can’t stand that Kanye West out and out called him a racist.

    Of all the things in his Presidency he chose to focus on, he chose that one, and he chose it because he got butthurt over being called out on the one thing the Republican Party does not want to admit out loud.

    Typical dumbass dudebro fratboy.

  • Carstonio

    Yes, that was part of what I meant by pettiness.

  • Fusina

     My garden is free to visit to anyone as wants to. No gates, no fences–well, only fences because I love stiles–and also iris growing in front of a picket fence all painted white–the fence that is, not the iris, although there is also a tan board fence with white iris planted in front of it, so they show up very nicely.

    And I should love to visit your library. Maybe there I can get the sequel to the book Shotgun Angel, which ended well before I was finished reading it, if you see what I mean. I hate when that happens. I mean, I can see why authors would do that, as otherwise the books would become horrendously heavy and long (coughGeorgeRRMartincough) but sometimes I want to know what happened next. Which I suppose explains a lot of fanfic.

  • Fusina

    And now North Korea is up to it again.

     I know it has been a while since you posted this, but I am at the point where anytime I read about North Korea, I am reminded of the Duchy of Fenwick…

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Tell me about it. The latest saber-rattling makes me wonder if Kim Jong-Un is going to be just that prone to brinkmanship that he really will press the red button.

  • P J Evans

     Is it bad to hope that if he does, it blows up instantly?

  • Nick Gotts

    I wouldn’t – I’d wouldn’t be able to open the front door (OK, ebooks would avoid that, but I still prefer paper), and the house already holds hundreds of books I haven’t had time to read!

  • Nick Gotts

     In Britain, there were poll majorities against the war, and the biggest ever street protests, and Bliar still took us in. But there’ll be a next time, possibly very soon,  when we can point out that we were right and they were wrong, which just might make the difference.

  • Nick Gotts

     If you haven’t read it, you might enjoy Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light. An elite who have taken on the attributes of the Hindu pantheon (the hinted-at backstory is that they are the crew of a starship which long ago reached and settled a planet far from “lost Urath”), are opposed by one of their number, who takes on the role of the Buddha. The ship’s chaplain, incidentally, has become Lord Nirriti the Black, but is still a fundamentalist Christian; he commands an army of zombies.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Heaven would also have infinite hammerspace for books, though. :P


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