Archive for March, 2007


March 28, 2007 2 comments

No goatse?

That’s just weak. We all know what the proper punishment for bandwidth leeches is. This is nothing less than a failure of character.

Categories: 2008 elections, Silliness

Nothing to brag about

March 27, 2007 Leave a comment

Some Christian group is putting on their own Jamestown celebration. I thought these paragraphs from the article were amusing:

Organizers of official events marking the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown are being accused of trying to revise history. Ordered by Congress, the official commemoration is scheduled take place the weekend of May 11; however, organizers are not calling any of the planned events a celebration, claiming that an invasion should not be celebrated.

Doug Phillips, director of Vision Forum Ministries, says the Jamestown settlement was the primary tool for the founding of America and was “based on a charter called the Virginia Charter of 1606, which was directly based in the Great Commission. And America, he observes, “had been a nation under the control of individuals that were cannibals, that worshipped trees and rocks, that were spiritists.”

I assume that last statement is intended to counter the charge that Jamestown was an invasion. We all know the savages needed a little culture, so what’s the big deal?

Also, one would have to observe those who took control of the area practiced symbolic cannibalism (thank goodness it’d only really be cannibalism if their delusions were real) and believed in witches and zombies. I’m not sure it was much of a step up.

Categories: Religion

Origins of Christianity

March 25, 2007 7 comments


The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins

by Burton Mack

Burton Mack’s The Lost Gospel is a look at the world of Q and its impact on the origin of Christianity. Mack recounts the history leading up to Q’s “discovery,” its content and history of composition, the peculiarities of the group responsible for it, and finally the necessary revisions to our understanding of Christian origins.

If you’re not familiar with Burton Mack, he’s Biblical scholar who taught at the School of Theology at Claremont, California (long since retired, I believe). He’s definitely on the liberal edge of things and he brings a distinctly left-wing sensibility to his scholarship. In this book, he gives us a portrait of Jesus as a Cynic-like sage, not at all like the traditional portrait in the gospels. Of course, a Jesus figure that isn’t like the one portrayed in the gospels is nothing new. Biblical scholars have been coming up with historical Jesuses for at least a century. Schweitzer’s apocalyptic prophet, Crossan’s social revolutionary, etc. Q presents us with a new picture: a Cynic sage who bears no relation to the messiah of the gospels.

Q seems like something that should appeal to so-called “red-letter Christians,” those who try to emphasize what Jesus said, rather than the theology of the New Testament as a whole. Q is such a task on a radical scale. Taking the simple observation that Luke and Matthew share many sayings, scholars deduce a sayings source must have existed prior to composition of those two gospels. Pulling the sayings out of their gospel context puts them in a whole new light. Layers of composition emerge (that I find a little sketchier than the rest of this, but I’m hardly an expert) and we can pare down the sayings until we have an early core. This is where Jesus looks rather different than in the gospels. The line of authority from Jesus to the apostles to the early church is completely severed. Jesus appears to be a simple teacher of Cynic-like wisdom. Is this the actual historical Jesus? I must say, it’s the most convincing picture I’ve seen. The making of the rest of Christian mythology is traced through additions to Q and then its absorption into the other gospels.

Mack regards the revelation of Q to be earth-shattering. It’s hard to disagree that this is a massive revision of the gospel histories. Mack also wonders if Q will prompt a rethinking of our society’s myths (and wanders into some rather leftist social theory). Fourteen years later, we have good answer: nope. Q is still a relatively unknown theory of Biblical scholarship. Partially, this is because we don’t actually have a copy of Q. The Gospel of Thomas gives a glimpse of the genre, but we have no concrete evidence of Q, just the arguments of scholars based on careful readings of the gospels. Until we discover a copy, Q will have a limited impact. That’s too bad, because Q is an interesting document and Mack’s book does an excellent job of laying out just how important it may be.

Categories: 26 in 52, Religion

Allah causes drought

March 21, 2007 Leave a comment

So, in Australia God causes drought. Here, he causes hurricanes. Maybe we could trick him into sending those hurricanes aimed for New Orleans to Australia, giving them some much needed rain. He’d need to tone down the damage caused, though. Really though, what has Australia ever done to God? He gave them those adorable kangaroos, how bad could they be?

Categories: Religion

Islam irony watch

March 20, 2007 1 comment

This is amusing:

Reporter Rafig Tagi and editor Samir Huseinov, both of the newspaper Senet, went on trial [Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations backgrounder] Tuesday in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan for allegedly insulting Islam.

Violent protests broke out last year in the predominantly Muslim nation in response to Tagi’s November article, which suggested that Islam has been responsible for supressing people, and limiting freedom.

Well then. Someone criticizes Islam for limiting freedom and gets arrested for it.

Actually, this isn’t amusing at all.

Categories: Religion

John Backus

March 20, 2007 1 comment

Every CS student sees BNF grammars and Fortran at least once. The inventor of both passed away this weekend.

Categories: Tech

Random comment

March 19, 2007 Leave a comment

I’ve come to the realization after this weekend that Tim Rafferty is incredibly annoying. It’s like it’s the last two seconds of the game every time someone makes a nice shot. Sheesh.

Categories: Sports