Bruce Lee Melody

I am not a martial artist and I doubt I really ever will be.  But back in the day, after I was a Christian (~2002) before I was an atheist (~2007), I picked up Bruce Lee’s book Jeet Kun Do: Commentaries on the Martial Way thinking it would teach me something about Jeet Kune Do.  How to move my fists, feet, body, be cool, etc.  When I saw the book’s title in the store the “Commentaries on the Martial Way” were in little letters so I didn’t read them.  It didn’t take me long to realize I had purchased a compilation of Bruce Lee’s philosophical notes related to martial arts.  The martial way, training, motivation, teaching, and more in the form of short quotes or page-long notes.  It was a good accidental find for me in a shiftless period and got me into kung fu movies.

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Beyond Biblical Cleanliness

Warmth and brandy can save lives!

Obviously the issue of gay marriage has been on in the news and on my mind a lot lately.  For my last post where I had read some of Leviticus to get more material, which I already knew was there, but I didn’t know specific location of anything in the book.  Upon reflection of the holistic biblical context I feel like an idiot for not seeing this correlation sooner.  The Old Testament concern about male on male action is no less about hygiene than chapter 15 that describes human discharges. Female homosexuality seems to get a pass.  Leviticus covers every other coupling under the sun from three generations worth of instructions on incest to bestiality but no there’s no mention of inter-female relations in the whole Old Testament.  I found this interesting and relevant to helping my point on the biblical concerns really being about hygiene.

Back to my thoughts on hygiene and medicine, in those days they didn’t have running water or any awareness of viruses, bacteria, or other immunity considerations.  Every disease, sexually transmitted or not, was interpreted and treated as a spiritual affliction cleansed by water and whatever other mumbo-jumbo they perceived to have helped at some point prior.  I’m not saying these people were void of medicinal ability.  I’ve read about olive oil being used as an antiseptic, soap being made from animal fat, and they instruct people to wait after bathing before considering themselves clean.  The point is that they clearly didn’t have much to work with in the way of knowledge or resources and it was found easier to leave camp or kill their own people than keep them around to inflict their uncleanliness on the rest of the group.

This explains why the severity of sexual uncleanliness decreased by Paul’s time when he just put homosexuality alongside promiscuity.  Society didn’t need to kill for it anymore, but as the end of Romans 1 indicates God was perceived to be perfectly capable of taking you out if he wanted to.  But disease was less of a risk to society because specialized practices like plumbing and medicine are just a couple perks which come from settling in a populous city.  Doctors still didn’t know what an immune system was but with the added knowledge and resources which comes from being a hub of trade a bunch of different mumbo-jumbo possibilities sifts out to expose consistent medicinal commonalities and the latest stock of supplies for carrying them out.  The goal of the doctor was still a matter of helping the patient’s spiritual fortitude along to the point of sustaining itself but the quality of care was far better than what could be provided by nomads in tents.

So this consideration begs the question of why human sodomy would still be considered morally unclean if there is now zero possible social ramifications for it.  We’ve bottled virtually every disease known to us, grasped it’s method of transmission, and are well on the way to finding cures or at least methods of neutralization.  Even the homeless have the ability to access plumbing, soap, anti-bacterial lotions, bath tissue, washing machines, and hospital care.  The biblical concerns about human sodomy are as obsolete as eating pork, shell fish, or going outside the camp to bury excrement with a trowel.

I’m not sure if this is what actually lies behind the Christian aversion to LGBTI marriage outside their schematic for love and devotion.  Jesus talks about the man and woman becoming one flesh thing in Matthew 19 and Paul about one husband one wife in 1 Corinthians 7.  But these are as much statements against divorce as they are definitions of union and since evangelical Christians have a divorce rate of roughly a third it hardly makes sense for them to declare their Christianity to be the morally superior one.

Of course all of this is a non-issue for the LGBTI community; they just want the right to stand by their partner legally as well as personally.  We don’t police the bed room so how consenting adults express their love isn’t even a matter on the table.  And the establishment clause of the first amendment prevents the government from making laws solely for the reason of enforcing the views of a religious establishment.

God Mode Voting: Gay Marriage Edition

You can’t advocate The Bible as a legal document without advocating theocracy.

Civil issues based in the reality of what it means to be a human seems to cause hangups for certain Christian perspectives.  I don’t understand how the civil rights issue of “separate but equal” doesn’t get naturally correlated with gay rights.  In a republic such as ours law is meant to protect the minority from the majority anyway and there has yet to be a qualifiable reason for a judge to rule against the legal marriage of any two consenting adults regardless of sex.

Passing the buck to God, Jesus, or some other biblical entity doesn’t alleviate a person’s responsibility for actively favoring segregation.  And when I do delve into biblical reasoning it always exposes the stark contrast between Christian beliefs and The Bible as a whole.  The Christian’s who stand by Leviticus 18:22 must be completely oblivious to the existence of Leviticus 20:13.  1 Cor 6:9 puts homosexual acts along side greed, slander and drunkenness.  I haven’t heard of a rise for another alcohol prohibition and Fox and Friends is caught red handed for misrepresentation all too often without having to recant despite their mostly Christian demographic.

Besides all of that marriage is a word which has already changed much in the last 2000 years.  Betrothals and the exchange of dowry are already things of the not so distant past as are marriages between races.  Love and vows are up to the couple and any legal adult can be ordained a minister in minutes.  Ceremonies are different the world over.  The divorce rate in this country is abysmal at best.  The word marriage can be used synonymously with monogamous to describe a seemingly devoted pair of animals.  Where reproduction, devotion, ceremony, and respect isn’t a necessity for marriage what sanctity is being defended within the institution aside from personal ego?

Good Triumphs Because Evil is Dumb

“There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil.” – Gandalf

The only time I have ever heard evolution be portrayed as survival of the fittest in modern times is by people who don’t understand how the hierarchy of natural selection works.  All natural selection means is that an organism that survives to the point of reproduction has adaptations which allowed it to survive and pass those adaptations on to the next generation.  If the anti-social behaviors of sociopaths don’t pass on then the adaptation causing them to be dead ends in terms of evolution.  Applying that reasoning to the Aurora shooter, James Holmes, if he had some perception of mutant superiority over the rest of the species he effectively proved himself wrong by assuring that his lineage is a dead end.  Whatever adaption he had to have violent disregard for human life has accumulatively pissed society off and he will now almost certainly die by execution or old age.

In case it isn’t clear, no the individual or genocide committing group of xenopaths has any adaptation that another within their species doesn’t have.  Hatred, weapons, strength, or whatever other outward focus at some point must stop so the relations can get back to getting their compassion on.  This is why “Thou shalt not kill” and the other tangible social commandments could be written and taken to heart by a people bent on brutally destroying other societies of humans.  In turn different other societies came along to spank Israel out of their self-righteously narrow vision of solidarity.  Over time the definition of what it means to be human has expanded from ideology to states or from races to demographics either way marching toward the human common denominator which has existed all along.

Thou shalt not kill has existed before writing just as it exists presently among other species in nature without detailed instruction yet still manage to maintain their relative forms of society.  Our dependence on communication, knowledge, sex, and young-rearing means that our species can only survive by compassion with relations.  To be human is to be social because anything else means inevitable extinction.

Spaceballs
Good makes evil look silly in Mel Brook’s Spaceballs

Sheesh, talk about a rambling blog. At least I managed to come to some semblance of a finish so I can post it and be done.

An Atheist Can Understand: Grace

Defining Grace ala Wiktionary

After commenting on a friend’s wall post on Facebook where he asked asking whether this Gospel Coalition post or the topic of grace struck a chord in my experience I was left to ponder the word “grace” and explore what meaning it can reflect on an eternally stagnate source of morality and being.

The over all meaning of grace seems to be a perception of an unexpected redemption of dignity by some measure.  Someone stepping on a skate only to roll along and keep walking.  A leader granting amnesty.  An ex-friend’s concern for your well-being.  Doubly graceful is a school bully nearly slipping on a kid’s skateboard only to take it in stride handing the skateboard back without issue.

Anyone who knows anything about Christianity knows that Jesus’ version of God forgives any who approaches and repents in earnest regardless of previous transgression.  Propping up the perception of grace here is the concept that you, me, and rest of humanity doesn’t deserve a fraction of the clemency being offered by this deal.  Quite the opposite, God is fully justified to judge every one of us to eternal pain and/or oblivion.  Deserving absolute loss but being granted fully dignity; if grace has an ideal this would be it.  Wouldn’t it?

What kept coming to mind while writing the previous paragraph was a scene in the movie Gladiator.  After Commodus (the bad guy) discovers the plot to overthrow the city from his sister’s son he has this dialogue with her:

Commodus: [to Falco (his second)] Lucius (the son) will stay with me now. And if his mother so much as looks at me in a manner that displeases me, he will die. If she decides to be noble and takes her own life, he will die.
[to Lucilla (his sister/Lucius’ mother)]
Commodus: And as for you, you will love me as I loved you. You will provide me with an heir of pure blood, so that Commodus and his progeny will rule for a thousand years. Am I not merciful?
[Lucilla turns her head]
Commodus: AM I NOT MERCIFUL?!

Is it a fair comparison?  I think this is as fair a comparison as any.  Normally I try to keep a welcoming table for any detractors, but I don’t see any other way to roll this topic out.  How graceful would the parable of the prodigal son sound if the father had a torture room awaiting the son if he didn’t worship the father upon return.  Replace the son with everyone, the father with God, and the return with all death ever.  Grace?  That rings more like extortion and self-deprecation in my ears.  What am I missing here Christians?

Waiting for Dovahkiin

Have you ever heard of Skyrim?  It’s an adventure world of swords, dragons, and Nordic-medieval grit and you get to play the dovahkiin, a human with kinship to the dragons.  It’s basically your job to adventure around and beat things up with the ultimate goal of saving the world from a pending apocalypse at the hands of an evil dragon.  It’s pretty awesome if you’re into that sort of thing.

Anyway, I was doing something monotonous the other day and amused myself by wondering what it would be like to be in the game as one of the random town people, bandits, or various other things you come across as a player.  Dragon’s don’t show up until he starts his reign over the land and even then they don’t come to town until the %#$ dovahkiin comes along bumping into people, knocking things over, and pawning pillaged wares on our shops for every scrap of gold.

Generally speaking the non-player characters don’t associate you, the dovahkiin, with their overall hardships.  On the contrary you’re the guy who helps them.  This morning I helped a town leader by paying off hired blades squatting in his town’s mine.  As a reward the town leader pays me more than what I payed the mercenaries, so the guy was able to help himself the whole time if only he had the programming.  And I have no sympathy for his workers, who were complaining about going back to work.  I started off in wandering around in rags and bindings and managed to make a decent amount of coin as a vigilante doing odd jobs for people.  Contrary to what you’d think based on my previous paragraph towns and shop keepers don’t seem to mind my bloody pilfered goods as long as I didn’t steal it from society.

There is a minor point to this post besides just bsing my tales in Skyrim… there are quite a few people that I have ran into in my life who remind me of non-player characters.  Content to live a life without variation where change is a matter of anxiety because it’s outside of their control or willingness to reach out and take control.  In reality each individual is the protagonist in their own life; there is no way to walk out of your own story.

Government Commune

I wonder what would happen if voting got tied in with paying taxes via what I’ve started calling in this article a “tax ballot.”  With the development and availability of modern information technology it’s possible for voting and taxes to occupy the same time frame for every state, provide a “paper trail” in the form of a series of digital exchanges that the voter/tax payer initiates and can track personally.

A system like this would also open the door to true government transparency.  I spent a while trying to figure out where my tax dollars go and couldn’t get further than the typical pie-graph of defense, medicare/medicade, social security, and various other black box systems voted on by representatives.  Whatever happens in the black boxes obviously money goes into the pool and expenditures come out another side, for many of them to the aid or paycheck of another citizen.  In the system I’m wishing for privacy precautions should apply which means that the system shouldn’t be able to display on basis of individual or business except for the case of the individual or business logging in.  Displaying pools by county with additional drop down pools for public offices and organizations as well as fed and state tax expenditures.

In time this kind of system can be revised and expanded to include functionality for bidding in or out various services that are new or obsolete in local government which can be expanded wider until it reaches a federal level.  This process would give tax payers some self-representation and, therefore, personal responsibility for the  way the local, state, and federal government distributes services.  A government for the people could start to becoming of the people and by the people.