Thursday, December 31, 2009

If Only I Paid More Attention to Industry News...

...I'd have no time for anything else. I don't know how those other bloggers do it.

Anyway, I just now, after months of it being common knowledge, discover that the summer of 2010 will see the release of...wait for it...

New Bone books!



Oh, I'm delirious with happiness even though sequels and prequels to gargantuan self-contained epics are usually bad news. After all, more Bone is more Bone.

The first volume to be released will be Bone: Tall Tales, which will feature Smiley Bone telling stories to a group of Bone Scouts. The tales will include the existing prequel Stupid Stupid Rat-Tails, about the Bones' eponymous ancestor Big Johnson Bone. His tale is currently in black-and-white, but in the new version will be in color, along with two other Big Johnson Bone stories. The other tale in the collection is a "lost chapter" of Bone that originally appeared in Disney Adventures Magazine, but didn't make it into the final Bone compilation. This is presumably the same story that appears in full in The Art of Bone.

The other books coming out are a trilogy of novels written by Tom Sniegoski under the title Bone: Quest for the Spark, featuring a new set of Bones traveling to the Valley (don't Bones ever vacation anywhere else?).

This is making it harder and harder for me to make my goal of one day reading the entire Bone saga from beginning to end in a single euphoric sitting. Before, I thought all I needed was the last remaining mini-comic, which comes with the Phoney Bone action figure, but now I see I need some additional volumes as well. I'd better stock up on beer, quiche, and hard, stuffed bread-thingies to sustain me during this reading task, which is looking increasingly arduous.

(See the info over at Boneville.com.)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On That Note...

You may have heard that singing is like praying twice, but what they didn't tell you is that singing off-key is like blaspheming twice.

(I've caught a cold, and that makes me grouchy.)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Movie Review: Avatar



The technology that made this movie is 3v1L!!1

Avatar, written and directed by James Cameron. Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Stephen Lang. 20th Century Fox (2009). 161 freaking minutes for a glorified action flick. Rated PG-13. USCCB Rating is A-III--Adults.

Avatar is the most expensive movie ever made, and, as with the last movie I remember being touted repeatedly as the most expensive ever made (that would be Waterworld), I'm unsure where exactly all the money went.

For a film that basically amounts to almost three hours (ugh!) of eye-candy, it has garnered a lot of controversy, so I'll be up front: Because I like to be like that, I'm going to buck the trend of conservative Catholic blogs and give this movie a thumb up, with reservations. If you want the resoundingly negative view of things, I recommend Catholic Media Review. For non-Catholic posts that say more-or-less the same thing, check orgtheory, which compares it unfavorably to District 9, and io9, which dwells over-long on the "race" issue.

I agree with most everything in the reviews I just cited except maybe that rather un-Catholic part in the Catholic Media Review article about forced neutering, so why do I approve of Avatar? Well, first--and I'm actually serious here--I can't hate a movie that looks uncannily like a film version of a story I wrote in middle school, complete, believe it or not, with disenchanted space marine, jungle planet, physics-bending vortex, floating mountains, wire-fu humanoid aliens, evil human colonists, furry alien ninja princess babe, and nature mother goddess. Second, I hate discussions of "race," an artificial concept that should be dead, but which is perpetuated by bigots and people who want to use it for political capital, so I have my John-C.-Wright-esque sense filters set to mostly ignore it. So, while everyone else was noticing that Avatar hates pale-skinned people with a passion, I was enjoying watching the battles between dragons and helicopters. Dragons vs. helicopters! The last time I got to watch dragons vs. helicopters, it was in Dragon Wars: D-War, a movie much, much worse than this one.

On the downside, this movie appears to have been written by a middle schooler. I am currently suing Cameron, but I don't expect it will do me any good, since his lawyer has better wire-fu than mine. (In case anyone didn't know, in the sf world, we "sue" with ninja.)

What have we got here? Basically, it's the plot from the flopped Battle for Terra, only with more running-time, better CGI, and a less stupid name for the alien planet. It's Planet Pandora, and t3H 3V1L military-industrial complex, where they talk like Texans, is mining the planet for the mineral unobtainium, a mineral so important and valuable and stupid-sounding that we don't know what it does (though it looks kind of like slag). For using the name "unobtainium," Cameron is being sued by ninja from the guys who made The Core, but I hear their wire-fu isn't too good either. And their movie sux.

Pandora is inhabited by the Na'vi, an alien race with one of those apostrophes in its name that sf writers are so fond of. The Na'vi are basically ten-foot gracile blue furries, equipped, we are assured, with naturally-occurring carbon-fiber bones so they can do their wire-fu. Their culture and religion are a conglomeration of romanticized, cleaned-up noble savage stereotypes that could only be concocted by a modern man sitting in an air-conditioned office: they've got gender equality, pantheistic nature goddess worship, and utter peacefulness, even though they have weapons and a warrior class. Cameron apparently wanted them to be free of agriculture, but still wanted them to have large domesticated animals, so he came up with a clever excuse: hidden in their ponytails, the Na'vi have little tendrils they can plug into the tendrils on the various wild beasts they ride, producing an instantaneous mind-meld. I wonder how a handy feature like that evolved.

Absent from this romanticized culture are any of the possible bad elements: wife-stealing, polygamy, self-mutilation, human sacrifice, slaves, and tribal feuds (though they still have warriors!). Heck, they even keep the piercings and tatoos to a minimum. I admit I can't swallow this: with the rich resources, we should have some more complex societies here, some more sophisticated art, maybe some proto-empires, perhaps some agriculture. People who arm themselves to the teeth and ride around on dragons or six-legged land seahorses and boast of their strength in battle would not live happy and peaceful in their trees without ever bothering their neighbors. The film covers the poor world-building with plenty of lavish visuals illustrating both the jungle and the Na'vi way of life, so the only flaw that really becomes glaring before the fridge logic is the Na'vi talk about religion: it doesn't sound real; these people live in a harsh, deadly environment made up of wall-to-wall CGI monsters, but they can only think of their pantheistic mother-nature-deity as utterly benevolent. Right. At least in my middle school version the mother goddess was wrathful and capricious. Where's the magic? The sacrifices? The rituals? The shamans? Why don't the Na'vi feel the natural need to propitiate their gods--on whose whims their lives constantly depend--so nature doesn't get out of control?

Where was I? Anyway, t3H 3v1L humans have two conflicting ways of keeping the Na'vi at bay. One is a standing military with plenty of airships, mecha, and musclebound space marines led by Miles Quaritch, played by Stephen Lang, who, it must be said, pulls of the one-dimensional Hollywood stereotype of the crazy, bigoted, violent marine probably better than anyone else could. His face looks carved from wood, his voice grates like sandpaper, and his 3D-enhanced muscles bulge off the screen. On top of that, he on several occasions convincingly demonstrates his total awesomeness by disdaining the planet's poisonous atmosphere, firing cool-looking guns, drinking coffee during a mission, piloting a mech, and dodging various literal and figurative bullets.

(Oh, that reminds me--reason to like Avatar #2: mecha vs. giant panther!)

The second means the humans have of dealing with the Na'vi is the "avatar aystem," where a human pilot gets in something that looks like a cross between a tanning booth and an MRI and remotely operates a genetically engineered Na'vi body. (I notice a few reviews complain that the avatar system is never given an adequate technical explanation, but the basic idea has been done before in various places from James Tiptree Jr's "Girl Who Was Plugged In" to the recent Surrogates, so I don't see what the explanation could have added besides tedium.) The avatar program is led by Dr. Grace Augustine, played by Sigourney Weaver reprising her role as peevish and violent nature-lover from Gorillas in the Mist. The latest addition to her crew of avatar pilots is paraplegic ex-marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), who at the last minute is hired to replace his recently deceased twin brother. When Sully, Augustine, and some other avatars are out on a mission collecting botanical samples, Sully's avatar gets separated from the others by the attacks, in rapid succession, of a hammer-headed triceratops, a giant panther, and a pack of glowy devil-dogs.

(Reason to like Avatar #3: mecha vs. hammer-headed triceratops pack!)

At that point, the furry ninja space jungle princess babe Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) saves his bacon and he soon finds himself a member of her tribe. When he's not piloting his avatar, he's giving information to the soldiers back at t3H 3v1L mining complex, much to the delight of crazy marine Quaritch. When he is piloting his avatar, he's going native and getting his make on with Neytiri, who falls for him even though she apparently knows he's a glorified doll.

Impatient with the situation, Quaritch decides to drink coffee and launch an airstrike against Neytiri's tree-dwelling tribe, at which point Sully, Augustine, and a few other characters who may or may not have names, side with the Na'vi and round up tribal warriors from all over (no inter-tribal warfare, remember?) to duke it out with the humans in a big helicopter-vs.-dragon battle amongst a maze of giant floating mountains.

(No explanation is given for the floating mountains other than a little hand-wave about a "vortex." One of them even has a waterfall, although there's nowhere the water could be coming from. In my middle school version, at least, the vortex and subsequent floating mountains were actually central to the plot and given some attempt at an explanation. Here they apparently exist only for the purpose of looking cool. But they do look pretty cool.)

So, is it the best-looking CGI movie ever? Probably. And the final climactic battle sequence is the prettiest and most exciting piece of sf action eye-candy I can think of off the top of my head, even though it's ridiculous: all of a sudden, the stone arrowheads that previously bounced off the airship cockpits are going straight through and piercing the pilots inside. For the record, stone arrows have a hard time going through cured buffalo hide, so I would guess they'd be mostly harmless against shatterproof glass or Kevlar. The Na'vi and their dragons are depicted as being on a more-or-less equal footing with their high-tech opponents, but it's not at all believable. If Cameron wanted realism, I suppose he could have instead depicted interminable sabotage, terrorism, and guerrilla warfare as the humans slowly but inevitably ate their way across the planet's surface, justifying the devastation by pointing out the brutality of their opponents while the Na'vi justified their brutality by pointing out the humans' rapine use of resources and destruction of sacred sites. That of course would have been both less exciting and more depressing.

I don't really think this is the anti-white-people movie some are making it out to be. It looks to me more like an anti-human movie. When Quaritch is giving one of his kill-all-the-furries speeches, the camera focuses in on a dark-skinned fellow cheering, as if the film is assuring us, "Don't worry, we hate black people too!" The deus ex machina ending (spoiler warning for the rest of this paragraph) where the Na'vi send the humans packing and Sully sheds his human body to take up permanent residence in his avatar gives the impression that the movie simply wants to leave us with the idea that nature is good and humans are scum.

(Never mind that the humans will be back in a few years with a bigger army and a heapload of ticked-offedness. By the way, in my middle school version, the story ended not with the aliens sending the humans away, but with the aliens slaughtering the humans mercilessly--including women and children--leaving the gone-native ex-marine looking out over the carnage in horror at what he had wrought.)

How much does all this bug me? Well, I am a little annoyed to find my idea walked away and entered Cameron's head because I sat on it too long, but other than that, not very much. I don't know about you guys, but I like me some misanthropic sf. I was first turned on to misanthropic sf by C. S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet, in which the benevolent nature-loving Martians are in the right and the humans are pretentious, silly, and funny-looking. Then there's Andre Norton's Victory on Janus, which I probably read in middle school, in which the aliens are magical nature-loving elves and the humans are ugly and stinky, but can turn into magical nature-loving elves if they find the treasure traps that give them the Green Sick. I think it was J. R. R. Tolkien who said something about fairy tales turning the face of "scorn and pity" toward humanity, giving us a chance to step outside of ourselves, as well as we are able, and criticize.

But such criticism can take two forms. On the one hand, it can result in humility. In the book Original Sin, Alan Jacobs proposes that this is what we see in Shakespeare's comedies, where all the characters are made to look foolish. Humiliated, they celebrate: they are able to laugh at themselves because they can see what absurd creatures they really are, and self-knowledge makes them humble and happy. Something similar takes place in Out of the Silent Planet, where the anti-human bits are laced with good humor.

On the other hand, it can result in self-loathing and suicidal fantasy, and that appears to be what we have in Avatar. Even though I lurv the dragons vs. helicopters, the explicit (and unnecessary) War on Terror references coupled with the gleeful depictions of American soldiers getting killed by spears and toothy animals leaves me with a bad aftertaste. During the final battle, I was thinking, "That is so cool, I wish it were couched in a better story." Avatar reminds me of one of those documentaries fantasizing about how much better the world might be if all the people just keeled over and died. Seeing this coming on the heels of such things as Life After People or the Day the Earth Stood Still remake makes me wonder if our culture currently has a death wish. Looking at the topics occupying our politics and the way we talk about them, I'm inclined to think it does.

I do find this funny, though: After the movie is done telling us the human race sux and technology is bad, the end credits roll. The end credits consist almost entirely of special effects artists. It took a lot of people and a lot of technology to bring this movie into existence.

Short Addendum: I respectfully disagree with the reviewer at io9 who says the basic premise here (dude moves into a new culture, goes native, and ends up as leader) is driven by white guilt. It can certainly be used to express white guilt, but I think the basic premise is really just Lawrence of Arabia...IN SPACE!

Second Short Addendum: Before, I made some personal jabs at Cameron in this review, but I've taken them out as I'm trying to get over my bad habit of making personal jabs. My apologies to my readers.

The Sci Fi Catholic's Rating for Avatar:

Myth Level: High (pretty much the same basic story as Dune)

Quality: Medium-High (pretty darn good-looking movie with a script not as weak as they say but nowhere near what it could have been)

Ethics/Religion: It's a toss-up; heavy on action violence and foul language, with a seriously self-hating plot

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

John Granger on Twilight

As we've made clear, I have no great love for the Twilight franchise, but, nonetheless, some of the criticisms of the series kind of get on my nerves. I must agree that Stephenie Meyer doesn't succeed at writing a chaste teen romance, but I still give her credit for making the attempt.

(And if you want to talk conspiracy theories, I prefer the one that Twilight is a Catholic attempt to keep teens from having premarital sex. I'm pleased to say that I was in on this conspiracy, and that Twilight was written by a committee of mediocre Catholic authors posing as Mormons in order to maintain our cover. Being from Utah, and being a mediocre Catholic author, I was selected to write a five-page description of Edward Cullen's gorgeously chiseled pecs. I was a little embarrassed, when I received my contributor's copy, to find that the entire five pages had been included in the final draft, surrounded by about 300 similar pages.)

(Image minus captions stolen from Spes Unica.)

When Lucky, Snuffles, and I put together our review, I considered discussing Meyer's Mormon faith and its influence on Twilight, but I didn't feel competent do dive into that subject, and when I went to find outside resources, all I uncovered were sarcastic essays with anti-Mormon chips on their shoulders. However, I recently came across John Granger's "Mormon Vampires in the Garden of Eden" from Touchstone, an article that looks at the topic both deeply and respectfully, but quite critically. Granger offers an insightful discussion that falls into neither fangirlish hysterics nor reactionary anti-Twilight hysterics.

Granger attributes the popularity of the series partly to its religious basis:

When God is driven to the periphery of the public square, the human spiritual capacity longs for exercise, and it often finds it in the “suspension of disbelief” and activity of the imagination that are available in novels and movies.

The books and films that satisfy this spiritual longing most profoundly are the ones that have religious content of some kind, sometimes any kind. [more...]
Granger summarizes Twilight thus:
Which brings us to Twilight. These Gothic romances featuring atypical vampires and werewolf champions are allegories about the love relationship between God and Man. They are, in fact, a re-telling of the Garden of Eden drama--with a Mormon twist. Here, the Fall is a good thing, even the key to salvation and divinization, just as Joseph Smith, Jr., the Latter-day Saint prophet, said it was. Twilight conveys the appealing message that the surest means to God are sex and marriage. [more...]
The rest of the essay fleshes out that theme, and I encourage all our readers to read it. I will only note one odd detail that will probably catch most people's eyes: he places the origins of Mormonism in the 1600s, but I think he only means that Mormonism has certain precursors that date that early.

Update: It's only fair to post contrary views, and Granger's essay is unsurprisingly controversial. A reader kindly passes along a couple of links. The first is Tyler Chadwick's "Where Twilight Studies Meet Mormon Studies," and the second is "Mormon Vampires in the Garden of Eden?" by Daniel O. McClellan. I'm not interested in getting embroiled in an argument on the subject, but I think it's reasonable to note that Granger does indeed have to make some big assumptions to put together the narrative he wants.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

News from the Fish Bowl: Archaeology for Christmas

Hi, it's me, Lucky. I haven't posted in a long time because I've been with Snuffles in his cave. He doesn't get Internet access up there. He also doesn't pick up his dirty socks off the floor.

I wanted to do a news post over our break, and I just found out that the first-known house from the time of Jesus is being excavated in Nazareth. This is CBS:

Just days before Christmas, there has been a significant archaeological find in Jesus' hometown. Israeli archaeologists say they've found the first house in Nazareth dating back to the time of Christ.

"The character of the walls is typical of Jewish villages in the early Roman period. So this would be the sort of house that Jesus or people of his period would have lived in," said Yardena Alexandre of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who headed the excavation. [more...]

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Today is the last Sunday of Advent. I am presently at home where I am luxuriating in non-homeworkness. The family is visiting: Snuffles, Frederick, Phenny, and Lucky all flew in. As I've decided I think I could handle keeping a goldfish, Lucky is currently deciding whether she wants to come to the seminary with me or return to Snuffles's party cave. Frederick is hunting for an apartment and/or stable, as he has informed me he can't stand sharing Snuffle's domicile. Sounds as if the gang's breaking up, which rather makes me sad.

We were hoping to have received a Christmas letter from Rocky the Space Mouse by now. His writing has become more infrequent as he has become more involved in protecting our solar system from the terrors of the Beyond. I think all of us are worried about him, most especially Lucky, who was particularly close to him while he was here. Unfortunately, we no longer have a reliable address to write to him ourselves, since the Martian base was destroyed. Last we heard, his unit was near Saturn preparing an ambush against the Beyonders' Shadow Armada, but that was months ago.

At any rate, whatever happens, Lucky, Snuffles, Frederick, Phenny, and I are all together now and will be together through Christmas. I didn't realize how much I missed these guys.

Keep Mass in Christmas.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Douglas Wolk on Immanuel Kant

Douglas Wolk explains Immanuel Kant's "Critique of of Aesthetic Judgment" with comic books in this enlightening video, which I highly recommend.

Oh yeah, and Keep Mass in Christmas.

Friday, December 11, 2009

An Open Letter to My Professor

Dear Professor,

I was unable to turn in my homework today because of the immutable laws of physics, for which I should not be held responsible.

When I returned to my dorm room in the late afternoon, I immediately sat down at my desk to do the work you had assigned. However, when I sat down, I noticed that my desk was quite cluttered. Remembering the maxim that behind a clear desk is a clear mind, I set about organizing the desk in preparation for my homework.

I was unaware of just how disorganized my desk had become; I did not realize it had reached a dangerous level of entropy. Because decreasing entropy in any given system, such as by organizing the desk, must inevitably result in an overall increase in the entropy of the surroundings, the process of organizing the desk raised the level of entropy in my dorm room to the point that all complex interactions (such as doing homework) became impossible.

At a critical juncture, the level of entropy increased until my dorm room collapsed into that most entropic of objects, a black hole. Because the spontaneous formation of virtual photons near the event horizon will cause a black hole--especially a very small one--to evaporate, it was only a few microseconds before my entire dorm room, completely with my bed, my books, my desk, and my homework, dissipated in the form of unrecoverable energy.

In short, Professor, I was unable to complete the assignment and would like to ask you for an extension.

Sincerely,

The Deej

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pro-Life Update

The Nelson-Hatch-Casey Amendment in the Senate has been defeated. Please write or call your senators to urge them to defeat the health care bill.

A Suggestion--

Those darn supermassive black holes are the universe's greatest contributors to cosmic entropy, and I think we should sign a petition to make them stop.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hey, Kiddies, Santa Claus is Dead!

WARNING: EXTREMELY CHILD-UNFRIENDLY POST! SEND CHILDREN OUT OF THE ROOM NOW! NOW, I TELL YOU! T3H H0RR0R! T3H H0RR0R!!1

Okay, so I recently discovered that a forensic scientist has measured the skull of St. Nicholas and reconstructed his face. You hear that, kiddies? Santa Clause is dead! Dead!! And we've got his skull!!!

The story, which is a year old, comes to us from Holy Eucharist Parish, a Ukranian Catholic parish in Winnepeg. That site links the Proceedings of the Royal Society for the Advancement of Knowledge in the Natural Sciences, which gives a nice little overview of the history and legendry of jolly ol' Saint Nick, and then proceeds to discuss his relics:

In May 1087 (21 years after the Normal Conquest of England, and 33 years after the schism between Constantinople and Rome), Italian mercenaries and sailors entered Myra on the South coast of Turkey to retrieve the relics of Saint Nicholas. The stolen remains were then taken to the Basilica di San Nicola, Bari, Italy, where they remain to this day. (N.b.: please see the references below for the resting places of other parts of Nicholas. Also please note that the Royal Society does not have any portion of Old St Nick in its attic.)

A certain Professor Francesco Introna (coincidentally from Bari, Italy) has studied the relics in the modern day, and commissioned Dr Caroline Wilkinson of Manchester University to reconstruct the face of the bishop, using tools now familiar through forensic police work, which have also shed light on the faces of Tutankhamun and Copernicus through similar reconstruction. [more...]

That site in turn sends us to a newspaper article in the Guardian for more information about the reconstruction process.

The Royal Society also gives us a picture of the reconstruction. So here it is, the real face of Santa Claus:



I assume the whiteness of the beard is more-or-less an artistic flourish, though if it weren't there, we would all likely riot. But never mind that; as the above linked sources tell us, the most interesting feature of the face is the healed, broken nose, which our sources conjecture was received in a fist-fight with Arius at the Council of Nicaea. As I've said before, you do not mess with Santa.

In reality, of course, what our sources don't know, but what we know, is that these actually are the remains of Arius. Santa faked his death before taking his harrowing journey northward. After many arduous adventures during which the saint demonstrated his fortitude and bravery, he at last arrived in the land of the frozen north where he encountered (and subsequently converted) a race of elves that had emerged from the Hollow Earth via the Symmes Hole at the North Pole. These elves had already bred a magical race of flying reindeer, and they assisted Santa in building his massive military-industrial complex at the Black Precipice (that is, the great lodestone mountain near the Pole, which causes compass arrows to point north) in order to bring his generosity to the children of the world through the delivery of toys to stockings. He then sent his cloned agents, known as Mall Santas, out into the world to gather intelligence on which children were naughty, which ones nice.

This business was moving along nicely for over a millennium and a half until an ambassador from Mars offered Santa, who had grown jaded by the consumerism with which his operation had become surrounded, the opportunity to start afresh on a new world. Though tempted, he rejected the offer--except the Martians wouldn't take no for an answer. The Martians attacked Santa's workshop complex, and the mechanized elfin units were unable to fight them off. The workshop was destroyed, and Santa and his reindeer were taken hostage. On Mars, Santa discovered two races of Martians--the evil Nutkrakerians and their slaves, the Ratulians. The Nutkrakerians dominated the Ratulians with their superior technology, particularly their battle mecha known as TORGs. The Ratulians, however, were familiar with an ancient form of high-flying wire-fu that took advantage of Mars's low gravity. After converting them to Christianity, Santa led the Ratulians in a slave revolt, assisted, of course, by his reindeer--particularly Rudolph, whose nose can not only glow, but fire energy blasts. In the end, Santa fought a one-on-one mecha battle with Lord Volmar, the Nutkrakerian emperor, before returning to Earth, and the North Pole, in triumph.

As I said, you do not mess with Santa.




Keep Mass in Christmas.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

2009 Keep Mass in Christmas Campaign

I seem to recall that once upon a time I had a blog. At any rate, on this the first of Advent, it is time once again for our annual Keep Mass in Christmas Campaign!

Are you seriously angry that people don't reference your holiday while making embarrassing public displays of greed? Do you live in an alternate universe? Are you some kind of robot?

If you answered yes, or no, to any of the questions above, you need to join The Sci Fi Catholic's Keep Mass in Christmas Campaign, where we prefer to tell Christians to remember the proper way to celebrate Christmas, rather than telling everybody else, for whom celebrating Christmas wouldn't make much sense anyway.

Cracking a joke at an opponent's expense, for example, can demolish that person's argument if the joke succeeds in diverting attention away from the issue and causing the opponent to appear silly. Presidential debates and other forums for political candidates often show the success these tactics find. So does the following story from the floor of the British Parliament: A member named Thomas Massey-Massey introduced a bill in Parliament to change the name of Christmas to Christtide, on the ground that mass is a Catholic terms that Britons, being largely Protestant, should not use. Another member, it is related, rose to object to the argument. Christmas, he said, might not want its name changed. "How would you like it," he asked Thomas Massey-Massey, "if we changed your name to Thotide Tidey-Tidey?" Amid the laughter that followed, the bill could gain no further hearing.

--S. Morris Engel, With Good Reason: An Introduction to Informal Fallacies
, pp. 219-220

Keep Mass in Christmas.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pro-Life Update

I look up briefly from my studies to note an e-mail in my in-box from Americans United for Life, which is urging people to write or call their congressmen today. I reprint the notice here:

As I write this, I've just come from a meeting on Capitol Hill, and I have an update for you on the battle to keep abortion out of health care. The bottom-line message I bring you from the Congressmen and Senators we talked with is this: now is the time to act . . . and we need YOU to win the day. Senator John Thune, Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee told us, "This is when it gets down to the serious moment."

The message of the day was that your Congressman really needs to hear from you. A vote on the U.S. House health bill H.R. 3942 could come to the floor as early as this SATURDAY. We heard today that after the wins of two pro-life politicians, Bob McDonnell in Virginia and Chris Christie in New Jersey on Tuesday, abortion supporters in Congress are "really sweating." It’s up to us now to be sure they understand that Americans do not want abortion in health care reform.

The House Health Care BillYesterday, the House Rules Committee announced that the "rule" for considering the health care legislation will include language put forward by Representative Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind. which the House leadership is FALSELY describing as "pro-life." Rep. Ellsworth claims his Amendment would "prevent tax-payer funded abortions." Unfortunately, his amendment does NOT prevent taxpayer funding of abortion.

The Ellsworth Amendment allows the public option to pay for abortion on demand and allows government dollars to go to private plans that cover abortion. This amendment would undermine the only pro-life amendment that truly protects life in health care reform: the Stupak-Pitts Amendment.

Our pro-life friends on the Hill are concerned that the pro-abortion House Leadership will deny the Stupak-Pitts Amendment a vote. But without that amendment, pro-life Members cannot vote for health care reform.

Following this is a request for calls and e-mails to congressmen to make the following requests:

Ask him to vote AGAINST a "closed rule"
(the rule is a procedural vote that determines whether a bill can receive a vote and a closed rule will shut out the Stupak/Pitts Amendment).

Insist that House leadership ALLOW A VOTE on the Stupak/Pitts Amendment to prohibit abortion funding (and no other watered-down substitution like the Ellsworth Amendment).

AUL has a handy e-mail page here.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Groaner

The philosopher Rene Descartes moved to Sweden in 1649 to tutor Queen Christina. Descartes was a lazy man used to sleeping late, and he was now grieving over the recent destruction of the robot he had built to replace his dead daughter (the robot having been tossed off a ship by ignorant and fearful sailors), so he was irritated to find he was expected to lecture to the queen every morning at five.

One morning, however, the queen did not send for Descartes. Though he was at first inclined to take advantage of the situation and remain in bed, his curiosity was aroused, and so he arose, dressed, and found the chamberlain. When he did so, he asked, "Why has the queen not sent for me?"

The chamberlain replied, "Monsieur, Her Highness find this morning that she has quite lost her voice, so she simply cannot see you."

Descartes thought about this for a moment. "She's not ill, then? Surely she doesn't need her voice to hear me lecture."

The chamberlain answered, "Ah, Monsieur, perhaps this is true where you come from. But here in Sweden we know it is unwise to put Descartes before the hoarse."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Best Web Original Ever?

Yes, I haven't exactly been posting at a regular clip lately, for what I assume are obvious reasons...

But a friend sends this along, a bizarre little three-part short film by Joss Whedon, and I must pass it on to you, since it is approximately the best thing ever, or possibly the worst thing ever, or possibly the so-bad-it's-goodest thing ever:

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

I should probably warn of a little unfortunate raunchy humor in the third part, but I think the merits outweigh the demerits here. This little three-part show uses a lot of schlock to build up to something unexpectedly moving. The finale had me almost in tears and emotionally affected for quite some time after I saw it. It's weird how cheesy stuff can work that way.

(Okay, as someone pointed out, this has been on the Internet for over a year, but it's new to me, and it's probably new to some of you, so I'm blogging about it now. Got it? And as for keeping current--forget it. I'm not keeping current with anything right now, though I am managing to squeeze in time for some Wright novels.)

Arguably, this little three-part short film has a flaw; the transition from humorous to dead serious has only a little build-up, so it might leave some viewers cold, though I happen not to be such a viewer, having a fondness, for whatever reason, for funny things that turn unexpectedly serious, which is why I enjoy such works as Bone, Into the Woods, and Fong Sai-Yuk. The trick, I think, is to make at least one character likable enough that the audience can continue to care when his situation goes from funny to unfunny. In this case, I could certainly empathize with Dr. Horrible's hackneyed but hilarious situation: A geek falls for a girl and then fumbles around before she's stolen away by a hunk--as far as I'm concerned, that never gets old no matter how many times it's played, so I can follow him when his disappointments tempt him to the dark side.

On top of that, Dr Horrible has a fine little moral at the end: it is no good to gain the world at the price of your soul.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Introducing a New Product from the Creator of The Sci Fi Catholic

I've been away for quite a while, but as usual I have an excuse. Although my past business ventures, such as the Tossed Cookies Plug-ins and Shiatsu by Shih Tzu were failures, my current one is sure to be a huge success.

You can tell this is a gluttonous society: we now actually bathe in food. The other day, I was in the soap aisle at the grocery store looking at the body wash and began to notice the various ingredients: mango, green tea, yogurt, honey, and even oatmeal. I said to myself, "This isn't soap, this is breakfast." Yet the foods offered here in the soap aisle are all woman-on-a-diet breakfasts. Where are the manly, meaty soaps to get my day started?

That's why I've created Hearty Breakfast Soap for Men™, made with moisturizing sausage and eggs, exfoliating hash browns, and coffee (a skin toner and emulsifier). Hearty Breakfast Soap for Men™ rinses clean with no filmy residue, making your skin feel refreshed, leaving behind nothing but a light scent of bacon.

Hearty Breakfast Soap for Men™ is also available with grits for extra exfoliating action. And try our new hand soap, The Lumberjack™, designed to remove even the toughest grime.

Hearty Breakfast Soap for Men™ comes with my personal money-back guarantee: If you're not so satisfied that you think you could skip your next shower, I'll give you your money back. And as my added gift to you, each bottle comes with a free hotcake-shaped body pouf.

They say the morning shower is the most important shower of the day, so start your day off right--with Hearty Breakfast Soap for Men™.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

At the Seminary

To let everyone know I'm alive, I'm now happily installed at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon. I haven't had the chance to post before now as we have been in our tightly packed orientation week. I'll put up some more substantial posts later when I have the time.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Notes on a Recurring Topic

John C. Wright has produced a six-part essay on the subject of why chastity is good, why the erosion of marriage leads to a breakdown in society, and why homosexuality is disordered:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

On a similar note, I'd like to apologize to readers for some of my posting on the same subject. I can't recall ever calling names, but at least one post I can think of off-hand (this one) is too flippant and can be read as a personal insult, which is not the way to treat people who are suffering. The post was meant to hold up as ridiculous the idea of setting aside a month to celebrate sexual preferences, but it does not work well, and can be read as a personal insult. Also, in another place where this blog appears, an old acquaintance of mine called me a religious bigot in response to my comments on the APA and reminded me that my opinions were apparently different back in high school, so this is a response to that:
You read the rough draft of my post, which contained some sarcasm the final draft did not. I'm sorry for that. I didn't realize the rough had been archived, and I did not think anyone could read the flippant line I later took out. When I deleted it, your comment went with it, so if you want to make the comment again, feel free. This time, you might try adding something to the discussion instead of calling me names. The label "bigot" is so easy to achieve these days, it is meaningless.

In regards to the quote you attribute to me, I've little doubt I said that or something like it. I said a lot of stupid things in high school, and I even meant some of them. Again I apologize to you: on a few occasions now, both back then and in the present, I have done a poor job of representing myself, my opinions, and my religion to you. My religion allows neither bigotry nor self-indulgence, and you've seen me practicing both.

I do, however, find it strange that you praise me for something thoughtless I said years ago, especially since the comment was a disparaging remark about women. When I criticize the American Psychological Association for refusing to treat homosexuals who want treatment, you call me a bigot, but when I practice misogyny, which is actually a form of bigotry, you praise me. That makes no sense to me.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Road Trip, Part 4

It has been a long journey, but I'm finally in Oregon. I'm currently in Troutdale, and will be in Mount Angel tomorrow morning.

The worst part of the trip of course was yesterday--I say "yesterday," but of course what you all experienced as a day, I experienced as approximately fifty years, since I had to drive down I-84 through the Waste Lands at the base of Purgatorio, between Utah and Idaho. As you know, I-84, considered one of the greatest engineering feats of the modern world, stretches in a long, three-thousand-mile arc around the toe of the Mountain, running generally northwest. Its historic construction was costly, both in terms of money and lives, as approximately twenty-five workers died mysteriously every day during its construction, not to mention the goats sacrificed every hundred feet along its length to appease the dead who haunt the Wastes. Most of those who died in the construction died of consumption, and some speculate that their lives were sucked away by the spirits of their departed relatives.

It is a strange, twilit country, those Waste Lands. Settlements along the freeway are few: small, creaky gas stations and greasy diners, mostly; towns are rare. The sparse trees are short and twisted, no buildings stand more than a story high, the road signs are bent, and the churches, what there are of them, have no steeples, for the spirits in that land of the dead suffer nothing to stand straight and compete with the Mountain itself, which rises in impossibly steep, unending layers above the highway. The people living here are also bent, hunched, as if the heavy presence of the Mountain has pressed them, crushed them down. The nights in that country are as bright as the day, lit with an angry red glow from the Mountain's peak, which is rimmed with unquenchable fire.

Just as other gas stations on other highways sell figurines or cheap toys, the gas stations along I-84 sell amulets to ward off the dead. At my first stop, I saw a small cross, which the clerk swore was made of real silver and cold iron intertwined around a sliver of white oak bark, blessed by the pope himself. I doubt this, though: It was too cheap, and the papal runes too shoddy to be genuine. I bought it anyway.

The motels along the road are filthy, but well equipped. The beds are not like normal beds, of course, but are instead cold tables inscribed with pentacles, the lines of which--at least in the best motels--are carefully maintained to ensure against breaks where a spirit might slip in. The nightstand always has an instruction manual in several languages, and for several religions; following the instructions for Catholics, I was always careful to arrange the proper objects around the pentacle every night before sleeping: a vial of holy water, an icon of St. Michael, a blessed Bible (open to 2 Maccabees 12.43), a crucifix, a garlic clove. Tying a cord around my waist, I would lie down in the protective circle and try my best to sleep, closing my eyes against that eerie red light streaming in through the curtains.

At either end of this three-thousand-mile stretch of ugly road, at Brigham City and Twin Falls, are stations where they make you stop to ensure your vehicle is properly equipped for the arduous journey. I've been down this stretch many times before, and the questions at the stations are always the same: do you have the proper amulets? have you learned the proper spells? do you know about the time dilation? any family history of vampirism, incubii, or tuberculosis? After the ministers of seven religions had exorcised my truck, and after I had been handed the obligatory multifaith amulet to hang from the rear-view mirror (but which I threw in the trash, as no self-respecting ghost could be afraid of it), I was free to drive on--on and on, through that never-ending hell that is Purgatory, a trip of decades that takes a day. I didn't age during the journey, of course, except for my hair, which is now full of gray, but I still had to live every monotonous minute of it. Small wonder every crossroads along the way--few though they are--is choked with the graves of suicides.

But I made it. The Mountain is behind me now, and from here in the Gorge I can't even see it, though it will be visible again, that cloud-rimmed cone, when I reach Mount Angel and the view is unobstructed.

Time for photos:

The darkness and oppressive sky of the unending Wastes.


Why, it's Baker City, Oregon, my old stomping grounds, where I grew up, fell in love, and did all that other important stuff.


Sort of, but not really, a wider view of Baker City.


Baker High School, the site of much adolescent melodrama, which doesn't look as important now as it used to. Notice the sign in front there: that's a fitting sign to put up in front of a modern public school.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

August Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour

Oops.

I've been on the road and visiting home, and I was about to start in on an important post I hope I can get up tomorrow or the day after, and realized I once again spaced the blog tour. That's what I get for moving and utterly changing my life during a blog tour. My apologies to all tour members and visitors who have come to this blog looking for a book discussion and instead found narcissistic personal notes. I bet you never expected to see those on a blog.

Okay, the author this month is Robin Parrish, and the novel is Offworld*; as you can guess from the title, this novel is being published in a new experimental digital format broadcast from deep space. Contact your local SETI representative for your copy.

Hm, even I can't laugh at that. Okay, that's enough for title jokes. Let's get on to content:

First, you can see Robin Parrish's website here and his blog here.

The plot summary goes like this: The crew of the first manned Mars mission returns to Earth to find everyone else on the planet has disappeared, and...wait, didn't we talk about this novel in June? (Checking old post.) No, no, this one's different, though it has the same premise of a large-scale disappearance.

Says Frederation:

My biggest complaint was that Offworld shut down my willing suspension of disbelief at several points, and that takes some doing in a story I like. There was the characters’ Wile E. Coyote-like resistance to injury, a few car stunts that would make Hollywood filmmakers blush, and a key element of the story that gave me a whole new perspective on deus ex machina. [more...]

Whoa, that's actually a recommendation in my book. (And I'll add this is the only criticism; the review at Frederation is otherwise quite positive.

Projecting A has a brief bio of Robin Parrish.

A Place Called Fiction has a book trailer as well as a sample chapter.

Now the rest of the tour:

Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Gina Burgess
Canadianladybug
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
Eve Nielsen (posting later in the week)
Nissa
John W. Otte
Lyn Perry
Steve Rice
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Stephanie
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Elizabeth Williams


*Because it's off world, get it?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Road Trip, Part 3

I'm here in Kansas hanging with the fam, so I haven't had much time for blogging. The U-Haul is gone and everything in the truck is repacked, and it looks as if I'll get out of here with all the books I intended to take. A few last things to wedge in there, but I think I'll manage it. I will probably hit the road again early on Thursday.

The trip down, a total of two days, I made on a total of one complete meal, one granola bar, and two cans of caffenergy sauce. I arrived severely dehydrated and took a day to recover. I think I will treat myself a little better when I turn back around and head to Oregon, so I'm fit enough to pack all those boxes of books up to my room. Since this time I won't spend the morning of the first day packing and cleaning, I should be able to leave early and make good time even if I stop for meals.

I meant to have some Kansas photos for you; contrary to popular believe, Kansas is only mostly, and not completely, flat; I had a great view of beams of light shooting down through the clouds above the rolling plain, but it was gone by the time I found a safe place to pull over, so all I got was a lousy hill with a cloudy sky behind it. That's the second good photo I missed; I had a great rainbow on my first day, but it too had disappeared by the time I found a spot from which to take the picture.

Speaking of clouds and rainbows, I was followed by Oregonian weather on the entire trip from Utah to Kansas, and we've had intermittent thunderstorms the last couple of days, which have made my computer access especially spotty. This is, I assume, heaven's way of warming me up for things to come. On the plus side, since I assisted Mass on Sunday morning before hitting the road again, I dressed up and had, due to the weather, opportunity to wear that black greatcoat, which billows nicely in the winds of Colorado and Kansas.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Road Trip, Part 2

After much combined effort, we managed to hit the road this morning at about 10:30 or so. Weather was surprisingly wet and cold; as I'm headed for Oregon, Oregon apparently decided to visit with some weather. Today, I was in shorts. Tomorrow, I'll dress more appropriately--and it will probably be hot again.

I'm presently in Fort Collins, Colorado, which is halfway along the first leg of my first journey, the one I'm taking before I turn around and go all the way back again. Phenny and Frederick have already moved into Snuffles's cave, where they'll be living now that I'm no longer paying rent. Lucky wanted to come along for the trip because she wanted to spend time with me or something (I don't remember how she put it because I wasn't listening). Snuffles is accompanying me of course, because by grabbing the roof of the truck and flapping his wings, he can lighten the load and improve the gas mileage. He gets a lot of comments at diners, but he helps keep the cost down.

Having gone through Wyoming, my old stomping grounds, I'm reminded of just how big Wyoming skies are. When describing the sky in Wyoming in "Dragonsaint," I didn't have to exaggerate much.

The rig, ready to go.


Leaving Utah.


When the clouds look like that, it's a good sign you're in Wyoming.


Another shot of a Wyoming sky, with windmills.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Road Trip!

Tomorrow morning at 5:00 AM, I was planning to start the road trip that would eventually, God willing, bring me to safe harbor at Mount Angel Abbey.

Not gonna happen.

If I'm lucky, I'll leave at noon tomorrow, after I've cleaned this apartment and found a spot for those last few items I forgot to pack. Like the toaster. Curse you, toaster.

The plan, at present, is to pack all the junk I'm not taking to seminary in a U-Haul trailer and ditch both the trailer and its contents in the town near the fairy woods where my birth parents live, and then, my truck overflowing with the goods I am taking, turn around and drive to Oregon. Fortunately, I've given myself a number of extra days for this trip because, as I just said, it's not going as planned. If I'm lucky, I'll be out of here by noon tomorrow, and I'll have to repack everything once I get to fairy woods: it seems I tried to cram too many boxes of books in my truck, leaving no room for important things. Like clothes. I must make sacrifices; do I give up my books on folklore? On religion-themed science fiction? On martial arts styles? On guerrilla warfare? This is a quandary. I have already given up so many books that must now go into storage, I hate to give up more, but life does not, after all, consist in the quantity of our possessions. Not even, alas, in the quantity of our books.

Plus, I am not getting out of here as fast as planned because I spent half the day today just picking up the trailer, which was waiting for me in another town over an hour away, a town so obscure I had to ask directions three times just to get there, and at one embarrassing point I found myself getting cross with a clerk at entirely the wrong U-Haul dealership because I couldn't follow directions properly. The trailer being in the wrong town is not anyone's fault; apparently, I had reserved the last such trailer in all of Utah, or at least within a sixty-mile radius, and that just happened to be where it was. I guess it's moving season.

I will attempt to document the road trip on my blog. Occasional photos will be forthcoming, along with some musings about why I am going to seminary at all, a subject I have meant to post on but have not, mostly because I've been too busy getting ready to go to seminary, and partly because it's a personal subject I will have difficulty discussing without publicly embarrassing myself even more than usual. Plus, it will require me to drop character; the personality I portray on this blog is mostly an exaggeration of my real personality mixed with a number of outright fictions.

After today's comedy of errors, my priest and and a good friend in town were kind enough to send me off in grand style, with a vigil Mass for tomorrow's holy day, a fine dinner, and some parting gifts. Also, this road trip already has its inside joke ("It was impossible, man, like trying to rent a U-Haul") and a large cache of caffenergy sauce, which is also taking up space that could be occupied by clothes.

Lastly, I must add, without giving too many personal details having to do with someone else, that the father of a friend mine has recently passed away. Please pray for the friend, the father, and the family.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Best Movie Ever?



This movie preview for Raging Phoenix got me so totally pumped, I nearly kicked my mom right in the face. It's the new JeeJa Yanin flick from Thailand, and though it is unfortunately still made with that "real fighting" and "real injuries" garbage...it has dance-fu! Do you hear me? Dance-fu!!! And it has JeeJa Yanin, of course, which is also a bonus, and it even claims to contain the first film presentation of Chinese Drunken Boxing vs. Drunken Muay Thai.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

St. Philomena's Feast Day!



Agh, I feel awful. Here we are into August and I completely forgot that today is the feast day of St. Philomena, [unofficial] patroness and muse of struggling, absent-minded science-fiction-writing seminarians! Some of my readers remembered my patroness better than I did and sent me reminders. For shame, Deej.

Hermeneutic of Continuity has a short write-up, and a picture I stole.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Big Brother Really Is Actually Watching You

So, the White House wants you to report on the free speech of your fellow citizens, as you can read here. It says, " If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy", you can send it flag@whitehouse.gov.

Hmm.

You can read Senator John Cornyn's response in the Washington Wire.

Karina Fabian and Ann Lewis on the Radio

Karina Fabian, who you know as the editor of Infinite Space, Infinite God and the author of the Dragon Eye, PI stories, and who I know as that person I pester all the time, was on the radio along with Ann Lewis, mystery writer, in an interview by Al Kresta. Do you want to hear them on the radio? Of course you do, so go here to hear the podcast.

Dresser on Vampires

I have just finished reading Norine Dresser's American Vampires: Fans, Victims, Practitioners, a rather unorganized look into the idea of the vampire and its impact on American culture. Dr. Dresser, a folklorist, jumps around quite a bit: she discusses a sexual perversion called oral sadism, lists vampire fan clubs, describes vampires' appearances in television and film, and in the book's best chapter, discusses a group of genetic diseases called porphyrias, which were the center of a media frenzy beginning in 1985 when Dr. David Dolphin proposed that its symptoms may have given rise in the Middle Ages to the vampire myth.

Without being too harsh with Dolphin, Dresser cites medieval legends, compares the actual symptoms of the various forms of porphyria, and thoroughly explodes Dolphin's hypothesis. Dolphin proposes that porphyria sufferers have adverse reactions to garlic; Dresser gets information from doctors indicating this is false. Dolphin proposes that porphyria sufferers could find relief by drinking blood; this is also false. Dresser also reveals that Dolphin's ideas of vampirism come mostly from the image of the creature constructed by Bram Stoker, and not from pre-existing legends.

But the most interesting part of this chapter, which makes this to me a profound book and not merely an informative one, is Dresser's discussions of porphyria sufferers who were ostracized or mocked by friends, family, and coworkers as a result of Dolphin's hypothesis (a result Dolphin hadn't anticipated). Although most of the examples Dresser cites of people making jokes about porphyria clearly meant it to be harmless, it isn't harmless to those who have the condition. This has led me to a resolution to change the way I discuss disorders--of any kind--on this blog or elsewhere. Even well-meant jokes can sting when people are suffering. I think of some of the ways I've discussed homosexuality in previous posts and am not much pleased with myself.

Also, I'm inclined to say I wish I had read this before Snuffles, Lucky, and I had written our review of Twilight. In her discussion of fan groups, particularly associated with the TV horror soap opera Dark Shadows, which began its run in 1966. Vampire romance and fangirl vampire fantasies about dangerous but alluring vampire men, rather than being merely a contemporary fad as I had supposed, have been around for decades. Stephenie Meyers has not simply capitalized on a current craze, but has instead constructed her own take on something within fandom that is both widespread and enduring. That doesn't make the romance in her book any healthier, but it does help explain why her unhealthy romance is so popular.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cementing my Bias against Psychology...

The Associated Press reports that the American Psychological Association has declared that psychologists should not treat people afflicted with homosexual desires. Here's a gem of a sentence:

Instead of seeking such change, the APA urged therapists to consider multiple options — that could range from celibacy to switching churches — for helping clients live spiritually rewarding lives in instances where their sexual orientation and religious faith conflict. [more...]

Apparently, it is no longer the job of psychologists to treat mental disorders, but it is their job to entice people away from their religions. Changing your sexual desires? That's too hard, and it might even be harmful! Let's change your entire view of reality instead--that's easy!

I cannot easily imagine changing my religion to pursue a sexual perversion, or for that matter, even a sexual non-perversion. Anyone who changes his religion for such a reason cannot possibly take religion seriously. I shudder to think what my turn at the Last Judgment would look like:


Jesus: So, after a few years of prayer and study, you became Catholic because you arrived at the the conclusion that the Catholic Church was the Church I had founded and in which I still resided. But then, after three years as a Catholic, you suddenly became Mennonite. Care to explain that?

Me: Well, you see, Jesus, there were these babes--

Yeesh. Whatever comes after that can't be very pleasant.

The same article includes a mention of Alan Chambers, former (yes, former) homosexual and president of Exodus International, which successfully treats homosexuality. I have here somewhere, unfortunately packed in a box, a document, replete with citations, by a collection of Catholic psychologists who claim a review of the literature indicates not only that changing homosexuals is possible, but that psychologists who work in that field report a 30% success rate, which they consider high. It will be interesting in the near future to see how the two sides of this issue clash over each other's research. These paragraphs in the news article are telling:

Yarhouse and a colleague, Professor Stanton Jones of Wheaton College, will be releasing findings at the APA meeting Friday from their six-year study of people who went through Exodus programs. More than half of 61 subjects either converted to heterosexuality or "disidentified" with homosexuality while embracing chastity, their study said.

To Jones and Yarhouse, their findings prove change is possible for some people, and on average the attempt to change will not be harmful.

The APA [American Psychological Association] task force took as a starting point the belief that homosexuality is a normal variant of human sexuality, not a disorder, and that it nonetheless remains stigmatized in ways that can have negative consequences. [more...]

If that last, loaded sentence is accurate, the APA's report can hardly be considered the product of unbiased scientific research. It appears that the APA's real message to homosexuals is, sorry guys, it's just not fashionable to help you.

Meanwhile, you can read here that, as the American Psychiatric Association prepares the DSM-5 (that is the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), which will include a new, updated list of sexual deviations, the psychologists and psychiatrists involved find themselves in a conundrum: having, with their approval of sodomy and their outright advocacy of masturbation, divorced sexuality from decency and reason, they find they just don't know how to define "normal sex." Some are even suggesting all the paraphelias be removed from the DSM (note that the article makes a qualification of that, but frankly, I don't buy it). Though the advocates of perversion will probably lose that battle this time around, it must be hard to argue with them. Once you claim that sexual desire for a member of the same sex, with whom it is impossible to actually have sex, is normal, it becomes difficult to call anything else abnormal.

Friday, July 31, 2009

And Now for Some Good News--

According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, six-foot redheaded Charismatic Mennonite baristas with glasses and overbites are unlikely to get those charming overbites fixed. CNN reports:

New research published in this month's Journal of American Dental Association found that painful experiences at the dentist might cause more anxiety for men and women with red hair, who were twice as likely to avoid dental care than people with dark hair.

"Redheads are sensitive to pain," said Dr. Daniel Sessler, an Outcomes Research Department chair at The Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio, who is one of the authors.

"They require more generalized anesthesia, localized anesthesia. The conventional doses fail. They have bad experiences at the dentist and because of the bad experiences, they could avoid dental care." [more...]

Excellent! Those of us with IASFRCMBGO couldn't be happier!