You'll probably hear about this before the day is out 
2007.02.26 11:02 - News and Politics, Philosophy and Religion
At least, if it's of any significance, anyway.

James Cameron is holding a press conference0 wherein he intends to present claims that a handful of bodies found in a family crypt in Jerusalem in 1980 actually belonged to Jesus of Nazareth; his mother, Mary; his wife, Mary Magdalene; and his son, Judah (amongst others, presumably).

He claims to have DNA evidence to support these claims, but I don't see how that can do anything other than verify that the bodies were related (which is stated by the inscriptions in the tomb, after all). At least, I'm not aware of too many free-floating bits of DNA that can be tied back to any of those figures.


0. Don't read the comments. It's really not worth the IQ points you'll lose.

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Just in case there's anyone else interested 
2006.12.19 16:45 - Philosophy and Religion
December 25th was probably chosen as the date of Christ's birth for reasons that have nothing to do with pagan celebrations around the same time on the calendar.

I already passed that one on to a couple people last week, but it seems to be worthy of broader distribution. (I stole the link from a post by Ramesh Ponnuru over at The Corner, so I doubt I can broaden distribution by very much. However! I'm fairly certain that the set of my readers is far from wholly contained in the set of people who read National Review's website.)

Merry Christmas!
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In sort of the same category as Answer-Me Jesus 
2006.10.02 19:27 - News and Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Toys, Gadgets
We have the Dashboard Mohammed.

It might be more offensive than the Jesus thing, at least to the parties it's intended to offend.

Link shamelessly ganked from PDB.
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This seems pretty wrong to me. 
2006.08.26 10:56 - Philosophy and Religion, Toys, Actual Toys
Answer Me Jesus is basically a Magic 8-Ball in a plastic Jesus statue.

I really have no further commentary.
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Pondering Art 
2006.05.21 04:57 - Miscellanea, Philosophy and Religion
I started out on this path being frustrated about Scott Kurtz's thoughts re: The Da Vinci Code. Mr. Kurtz seems to miss the big point of Christianity in favor of the little point (be excellent to each other!). I eventually ranted myself out, thank heavens, and discarded the result. Rather for the best, I think.

I was considering, however, that the thing that has so many people arguing over this book (or, at any rate, interested in the potential arguments) is that the novel does make certain truth claims that are inconvenient for traditional Christianity (to say nothing of being ripped off from another book, which primary source admitted to hoaxing the authors, all well before Mr. Brown's book became such a big deal). Now, good or bad, successful or not, this is what art does: it communicates truth, or aspires to.

We know that art is not just beauty: there is ugly and terrible art. It speaks truth, but ugly and terrible truths. (That is to say, terrible in the sense of terror, not terrible in the sense of poor quality.) Goya's painting of Saturn (you may remember a parody of sorts that was meant as propaganda against President Bush during 2004) is such a piece of art. Not exactly the sort of thing you'd hang on your wall, but there it is.

So art isn't beauty, at least in the usual sense of the word. (Art as beauty is probably analogous to the way gamers and geeks discuss the graphics in an upcoming game as 'pretty': at the the time, the graphics in Doom 3 were very pretty, even though the monsters being so rendered were pretty much the stuff of nightmares and heavy metal album covers. This doesn't fully communicate the concept, however, as it really only covers technical skill or merit: a very pretty painting which, nonetheless, says nothing at all is probably not Art, or, at least, good or successful Art. But more on that below.)

There is a sort of pitfall to this approach to the subject, in that it's easy to wind up far down a rabbit hole, in which any work which, intending to communicate some truth, says anything true is automatically good art. But this is silly. Though your five-year-old's fingerpainting of a Thanksgiving turkey may communicate truth (turkeys look sort of like handprints), it doesn't really communicate an important truth, and it doesn't really do so with great skill (however much better your child's painting is than all of her classmates' works). This is sort of the opposite extreme of aestheticism. Rather than a pretty picture, Art is truth: all truth and any truth. At this point, art is practically the domain of the slip of paper you find in a fortune cookie, but without the cookie.

Some part of the difficulty (and I fear I now repeat myself) is that Art is often confused for artifice: skill, cleverness or craft. There is a certain art to throwing a frisbee just right. But there's hardly Art in it.
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