Thelonius Monk’s advice to saxophonist Steve Lacy (1960)

just absolutley tremendous.

i’m printing this out and kicking my ass with it every morning.




Thelonius Monk’s advice to saxophonist Steve Lacy (1960)

just absolutley tremendous.

i’m printing this out and kicking my ass with it every morning.


Of Pig Bones and Pillars: Why Josiah Matters

As much as I’m drawn to Dura Europos, the interesting convergence of narrative interpretation, post-colonial criticism and historical authenticities surrounding the study of 7th and 6th century Judah as played out in the Deuteronomistic “History” of Joshua thru II Kings (and Jeremiah and parts of Hosea, Genesis, etc) is too fascinating to avoid.

I really do uphold the position that Hezekiah and Josiah (especially Josiah) are the main characters of the OT (from a narrative point of view) and all the actions, theologies, histories, and imaginings of creation can (I would say should, but that’s my own reading) be read through a Josianic lens.

Questions of historicity, royal theologies, centralization of politics and the worship of YHWH, cultural hegemony… it’s all in the Deuteronomistic History.

Fun, and incredibly important, stuff to ponder for us as we move out of a world dominated by the ideas of nationalism into something very different where cultural theologies will be as, if not more, important than historic realities.

It would appear that following the destruction of Philistine Gath, and the apparent existence of a political “vacuum” in part of the region of the late kingdom of Gath, the kingdom of Judah, perhaps under Hezekiah, takes over parts of the lands of the former kingdom of Gath, including the city of Gath itself.

What is interesting though, is the fact that despite the clear change in ceramics, when we analyzed the animal bones from the 8th cent. BCE level, there still was a lot of pig bones – very untypical of the Judean sites. This may very well indicate that while the political control, and cultural affiliation of the site moved towards Judah, at least some of the original “Philistine” population remained on site and sustained their traditional dietary habits.

link: A Judean “pillar figurine” from Gath « The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Intelligent Design is Bad Theology

Looks like a fun book (Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution

Seeing and Believing: “Miller brilliantly exposes ID for what it is: a farrago of theological assertions and discredited scientific claims designed to inveigle a religious view of life into the biology classroom. IDers have no defined program of scientific research. Although they spend huge sums of money on public relations, they have not produced a single scientifically refereed paper supporting the empirical claims of their ‘theory.’ Miller correctly concludes that ‘the hypothesis of design is compatible with any conceivable data, makes no new testable predictions, and suggests no new avenues for research.’ One of Miller’s keenest insights is that ID involves not just design but also supernatural creation. After all, the designer has to do more than just envision new creatures; he must also place them on Earth. And if that is not creationism (a label that IDers loudly reject), I do not know what is.

For Giberson, ID is not just bad science (or more strictly, not science at all), it is also bad theology:

The world is a complex place, and there is much about the universe that we still don’t understand. We are centuries away from closing the many gaps in our current scientific understanding of the natural world…. But it is the business of science to close gaps, and it has long been the central intuition of theology to find a better place to look for God…. Promoting ‘design’ in isolation from God’s other attributes is a dangerous and ultimately self-defeating way to get God back into science.

Rather than reconciling religion and science, then, ID puts them in further conflict, damaging both in the process. That is why so many theologians as well as scientists have testified against ID in court.”

Read the whole review from Jerry Coyne at The New Republic.

Testing My Faith

[Later Addition/Redaction: As Prof Bibb points out in the comments below (and go read his fantastic blog, btw… I’ve been subscribed for the last few weeks and it’s one of my fav reads now), this is satire. And yes, I’m an idiot for a) not catching that and b) not doing my homework and clicking over to Edward Current’s YouTube page (lots of great stuff as well).

So, on with my righteous indignation…]

Besides my head literally exploding from the recursive and numerous logic fails, this video, it does point out a rather concerning strand that is influencing contemporary “theologies” associated with some members of movements such as the emerging church: the push against intelligence and asking questions.

In the video itself, we get the summary statement of these sorts of theologies:

“Maybe God created the evidence infinitely difficult to understand on purpose to test our faith in his son, born of virgin, and sent to die so that he could rise again and cleanse mankind of our sins. God is infinitely intelligent, you know?”

Well, we don’t *know* that since that would indicate we understand the nature of God. Some of us humans describe God with that descriptor, but it’s not something I’d ever claim to *know*. Language is important, folks.

Even more unsettling is the assertion that God would be a manipulative deity playing sleight of hand tricks with dinosaur bones and soil strata so that a very small percentage of our species (white, middle class North Americans living in the late 20th/early 21st century) could find redemption based on superior faith.

Trusting God is good and right. Trusting our tiny and inept brains to fully comprehend the nature of the deity, the cosmos and conceptions of absolute truth is idolatry.

I’ll stop there.

(BTW, William of Ockham was a very devout monk.)

Thanks to Pharyngula for the find.

Danes, Swedes and Post-Religious Morality

Growing up outside of a faith community (and in my hometown context, that meant Southern Baptist) until I was 13, my friends would often ask (even at our young age) how I knew right from wrong if I didn’t go to church. Those experiences have always stuck with me.

Of course, those questions made sense because as kids in the 80’s we were constantly on the alert for the godless communists that wanted to obliterate us and our Christian way of life. However, now we have the construction of al-Qaeda as the boogey people, so we demonize extremist Muslims rather than godless commies.

While these sorts of studies are hard to correlate data wise, it is interesting to observe how “post-religious” states such as Denmark and Sweden line up against more “religious” states like the US or Mexico or Brazil or Iran:

The Virtues of Godlessness – “Many people assume that religion is what keeps people moral, that a society without God would be hell on earth: rampant with immorality, full of evil, and teeming with depravity. But that doesn’t seem to be the case for Scandinavians in those two countries. Although they may have relatively high rates of petty crime and burglary, and although these crime rates have been on the rise in recent decades, their overall rates of violent crime — including murder, aggravated assault, and rape — are among the lowest on earth. Yet the majority of Danes and Swedes do not believe that God is ‘up there,’ keeping diligent tabs on their behavior, slating the good for heaven and the wicked for hell. Most Danes and Swedes don’t believe that sin permeates the world, and that only Jesus, the Son of God, who died for their sins, can serve as a remedy. In fact, most Danes and Swedes don’t even believe in the notion of ‘sin.'”

So, the question becomes what impact does religion have on our conceptions and intentional acts of realized morality? Are these positive or negative effects? Was religion formulated and born in an era of our species’ development when we needed a construct of some “other” force or entity to ensure community ethos, empathy, sharing, and foundational morality?

If so, what good is religion?

What Will Archaeologists Think of Us? Or Do Post-Moderns Dream of Electric Sheep?

Being that I’m of the historical mindset, it’s something I ponder often… what will our archaeological legacy be if the bits that we are creating even survive the coming millennia?

I’m not alone:

I sometimes wonder what future archaeologists and historians will understand about our society. It may seem unthinkable that future scholars would have as much disagreement about basic things as we do about the ancients, but I’m sure it seemed just as unlikely to those great old civilizations. Will historians understand our religious practices? Cultural and political systems? How much of our language will be opaque idiom? Let’s face it, bits and bytes are much less durable than papyrus, clay, and stone.

Fun stuff to ponder since we aren’t recording our decalogues on stones and stele anymore (somewhat unfortunately).

Are we the Myceneans 2.0?