No, I’m not talking about God this time … I’m talking about a video game. When I had my hard drive reformatted, one thing I lost was the game of Myst III: Exile that I’d been playing on and off since 2001. So I started over, going a lot faster this time because I’d done it before. But I seem to have reached a weird impasse. I have one puzzle left before I’ve gathered all three of the symbols. And I thought I’d solved it, but it still didn’t work. So in frustration I looked up the solution on an online walk-through, and found that … I had solved the puzzle, and it still doesn’t work! I looked up another walk-through and found the same thing. I’m completely flummoxed. When I went through it the first time I got out somehow, though I remember it being very long and difficult. But now I seem to be trapped! Any of you more experienced gamers out there have any idea what’s going on?
September 29, 2003
September 28, 2003
David is still not happy with the answers he got to his problems with “the faith thing,” and I have to admit I’m not entirely happy either, although for a slightly different reason. I understand the distinction Kynn is drawing between factual belief and mythic truth, and I tend to agree that believing that parts of the Bible are myth isn’t incompatible with being a Christian. But, for reasons I alluded to in my comment on Kynn’s post, I can’t agree that faith has nothing to do with what you believe to be factual truth. Even a myth describes reality as you experience it, or it has no resonance. That’s why I’m not completely buying the line from Kynn, Rob, James etc. that factual issues don’t matter, you can just look at the Gospels and recognize them as Truth.
September 27, 2003
Over at Tom’s place a big discussion broke out about hatred, and Rob asked:
For Jesus advocating “hate”, check out Luke 14:26 and John 12:25. In both cases, Jesus teaches that one should “hate” his own life. In the former, he teaches that one should hate both his own life and his mother, father, brother, sister, etc. Does anybody have any thoughts on these teachings?
A good question (and an answer to Kynn’s question about where Jesus spoke approvingly of hate). Actually, Telford and I discussed that passage last year, so rather than rehash it all, I’ll just link to it.
September 26, 2003
Tom cogently responds, here and here, to David’s objections to “the faith thing” in the comments to this post. I should add, though, that what really bothers me about this, and I suspect bothers David also, is the moralism carried along with the faith thing. If faith is a “gift of God,” it sounds like: if God gifted you with faith you’ll get to heaven, but if you’re not so lucky you’ll burn in hell and there ain’t squat you can do about it.
Different Christian sects have dealt with this issue in different ways. Some say, well, everybody deserves hell anyway, so don’t complain about it (a viewpoint I personally despise). Some assert that God actually does make himself known to everybody somehow, and if they say otherwise they’re in denial about it (which strikes me as arrogant). Some go for universalism, some for annihilationism (the unsaved will simply crumble to dust, as atheists generally expect they’ll do anyway). Some just trust God to do the right thing, whatever it is.
In the case of Catholicism I gather this led to the theory of limbo. As Telford put it when we were talking about this: “Actually, if you read about limbo in Catholic literature, it’s really a nice place. I mean, it’s not heaven, but it’s better than L.A.!”
September 24, 2003
There was a passionate exchange recently between Ampersand and Eve Tushnet about gender roles. Roughly speaking, she’s for them, he’s against them. I’m not going to try to solve the overall issue, much less wade back into the SSM debate, but I wanted to make a point based on one powerful part of Ampersand’s post:
I think about the years in which I didn’t go a single day without fearing that someone would beat me up, and rarely went an entire week without being physically brutalized by someone (usually, but not always, a boy). After a few years, I internalized so much loathing that I’d stand in front of the mirror, yell at myself, and punch myself in the face; I didn’t even require a bully to be present to get beat up.
And the beatings happened for one reason, and one reason only – because I was unable to decide for myself what was valuable about me as a male. Instead, the people who think it’s important to teach gender roles got to decide – they created a social context in which the punishment of gender role deviants was not only acceptable but encouraged.
I know how he feels, and I believe bullying is a serious problem that our society does way too little about. But I don’t think it has to do with gender roles per se. Back when I was on Blogspot, I did a post about bullying (mostly other people’s words, but they’re good words) and the theory that it’s really about social climbing. Enforcement of gender roles is one way that’s exercised, but only one.
September 23, 2003
Kynn recently objected to that concept, and Tom responded with a series of posts (permalinks are fubar again, but it starts with a post called “love and sin”). I am more in agreement with Tom here; although I think Kynn’s heart is in the right place, he elides the question of what to do if someone is doing something you believe is deeply wrong. If you fill in “sin” with whatever most offends you — child molestation, torture, what have you — it seems to me that loving the sinner and hating the sin is often the best you can do.
We begin with another healing story. In his post about Mark 1, Kynn wrote that he doubts Jesus actually faith-healed people, it was just symbolic of his compassion. The stories feel too detailed to me to be taken as completely metaphorical, especially since Mark is so economical with its language. But the healing stories do seem to be making points other than simply showing the fact that Jesus could heal. The leper story in chapter 1 underlined that chapter’s theme of secrecy. The new healing story serves to kick off this chapter’s theme: arguing with Pharisees.
I’ve now reciprocated some blogroll links: Hernan Gonzalez at fotos del apocalipsis, the aforementioned fantastic planet, and Bolo Boffin, which claims to be a blog by a hobbit. Actually, Bolo blogs on a weekly cycle and Tuesdays are about religion, so he’s started the Bible-blogging thing too. But he thinks he’s too late for Mark (I don’t think so, but it’s his choice), so he’s blogging Romans. Certainly an interesting book, though I’d want to read at least one Gospel first.
We got another blogger joining the Gospel of Mark study: Mr. J. Puma at fantastic planet. He’s a Gnostic, of all things, so his interpretation is quite different from the others here (and from conventional Christian interpretations).
I finally read Mark 2 on my lunch break today, so I’ll blog that this evening. Sorry for the long break, but now that my home computer’s functioning again, I should keep up with it more regularly.