Friday links! Sociable ghosts edition

Illustration from "The Sociable Ghost" by Ellen D'Apery, 1903

Illustration from “The Sociable Ghost” by Ellen D’Apery, 1903

That’s a design-wreckingly vertical illustration, but my, how it pleases me. Everyone who is not dead yet is going to die. It’s cool you have an Apple Watch, but someday another person will remove it from your cold, stiffening wrist and count himself lucky before he dies. Then everyone who knows him will die. Then the space mantids of Alpha Proxima will be like, “Get back to work.” But our words will live on, and the stories of our deeds will be remembered long after our names are only sounds. Today is Friday, another minute in a game whose meaning abides in a handful of spectacular plays. Won’t you review the tapes with me?

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Friday links! Systems of belief edition

Juggalos appropriate iconography of clown culture

Juggalos appropriate iconography from clown, gang, drunk culture

One of the best aspects of modern culture is that we are exposed to so many other people’s weird beliefs. Plenty of people in our daily lives hold different opinions and even core values from ours, but rarely are these ideas arranged into whole systems. To encounter an entirely alien worldview, you used to have to travel. But now you only need the internet, which will happily ship stories and images of Earth’s totalizing theories directly to your house. Today is Friday, and the world is a patchwork of non-overlapping magisteria. Won’t you deride the unfamiliar with me?

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Thursday is melt your brain with theo-philosophical reasoning day

Good morning, Christopher Hitchens! I'd like to trade you my argument that a transcendent plenitude of being is the necessary predicate of universal contingency for your rat's ass. No? Not gonna do it?

It’s Thursday, and you know what that means: its time to read theist critiques of the philosophical logic behind contemporary atheism! You don’t remember us doing this every Thursday since the creation of this blog? Well, I do, and the onus is on you to prove that we haven’t. In the meantime, I’ll be running for the local school board. Nah—I’m just messing with you. You can’t prove a negative, unless you use an indirect proof to demonstrate that assuming the negative’s opposite results in a logical contradiction—like, for example, when you point out that an omniscient god could not also be omnipotent, since his certain knowledge of the future would delimit the field of his own actions. That’s one of the many appealing but ultimately bankrupt arguments* for atheism that Eastern Orthodox theologian David Hart mentions in his dense, insightful and enormously infuriating indictment of “the new atheism” in May’s issue of First Things, which I assume is on your coffee table right now. Hart, who is the author of a book called Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies, (beach reading!) contends that the present cottage industry in books indicting religion is a poor, pale imitation of atheism’s great past. He writes like CS Lewis listening to a tape recording of his own voice, but he makes an interesting point. From the standpoint of rigorous logic, contemporary atheism has become sufficiently popular that it needs to start watching its ass.

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Tough week for God

Now that kids in Texas can learn about evolution, this guy doesn't know what the fuck he's going to do.

No two ways about it, the God of all the heavens and the Earth is having a shitty week. First of all, you try working on Sunday when all your friends are going out to get tacos and eat them by the river. Second, one of the Lord’s best messengers—okay, one of the Lord’s loudest messengers—suffered a terrible setback in Texas. I know; that’s like Wade Boggs losing a beauty contest at Fenway, but it happened. You might remember Don McLeroy, the creationist, amateur historian and Texas Board of Education member who made it his mission to expunge evolution and the New Deal from his state’s public school curricula. Despite his assurances that “if you read the latest” on Joseph McCarthy, you’ll find that he was “basically vindicated,” the voters of Texas have turned on McLeroy, nominating lobbyist Thomas Ratliff for the seat McLeroy has held since 1999. Props to The Cure for the link. It’s important to note that Ratliff’s 50.4% to 49.6% victory came in the Republican primary, and he hasn’t won the office yet. It seems likely that he’ll do okay in the generals, though, since no Democratic candidate is even running for the board seat. In a district so tilted toward conservatism, at a time when the word “lobbyist” is slightly less politically advantageous than, say, “secessionist,” Ratliff’s victory can only be seen as a referendum. I’m not saying God is hurt by any of this, but I am saying it’s raining in Missoula right now.

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