September 18, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 11:14 PM

THE ENDEARING LACK OF EGO:

Ganesha, Remover Of Obstacles (Sudhamahi Regunathan, Sep 18, 2012, Times of India)

Ganesha is elephant-faced, pot bellied and with short legs because he has no ego. And that is why the attributes which would otherwise be seen as disproportionate and strange now become endearing. We all have eight negative energies in some measure in us and we need to overcome them in order to control the ego. The ills that derive from these negative emotions manifest in a similar manner. It is divine power that makes you powerful, beautiful, desired... so do not ascribe it all to yourself, says Ganesha and that remains the most valuable lesson to success. 

Posted by orrinj at 9:53 PM

ONE OF THE TERRIBLE WEAKNESSES OF THE JESUS STORY...:

A Faded Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus' Wife (LAURIE GOODSTEIN, 9/18/12, NY Times)

A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: "Jesus said to them, 'My wife ...' "

The faded papyrus fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass. Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, "she will be able to be my disciple."

The finding was made public in Rome on Tuesday at the International Congress of Coptic Studies by Karen L. King, a historian who has published several books about new Gospel discoveries and is the first woman to hold the nation's oldest endowed chair, the Hollis professor of divinity.


...has always been that if He did not marry He never became fully human.

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Not much wiggle room in "shall."
Posted by orrinj at 5:01 AM

NO HEAVY LIFTING REQUIRED:

The End of Global Warming: How to Save the Earth in 2 Easy Steps (Noah Smith, 6 SEP 17 2012, The Atlantic)

Here is the good news. US carbon emissions are decreasing rapidly. We're down over 10% from our emissions peak in 2007. Furthermore, the drop isn't just a function of the Great Recession. Since 2010 our economy has been growing, but emissions have kept on falling. The reason? Natural gas. With the advent of "fracking" technology, the price of gas has plummeted far below that of coal, and as a result, essentially no new coal plants are being built. Although gas does release carbon, it only releases about half as much as coal for the same amount of electricity. This is why -- despite our failure to join the Kyoto Protocol or impose legal restrictions on CO2 -- the United States is now outpacing the rest of the developed world in reducing our contribution to global warming.

Now for the better news. A technology is in the pipeline that has the potential to eliminate CO2 emissions entirely. Solar power, long believed to be unworkably expensive, has actually been falling in cost at a steady exponential rate of 7 percent per year for the last three decades straight. Because of this "Moore's Law for solar", electricity from solar panels now costs less than twice as much as electricity from coal, and only about three times as much as electricity from gas. Furthermore, technologies now in the pipeline seem to ensure that the cost drop will continue. 

Within the decade, solar could be cheaper than coal. Within two decades, cheaper than gas. When that happens, assuming we also have electric cars, it is game over for carbon emissions.

Am I being optimistic? Not especially. Global warming might still destroy the world. But technology has given us a fighting chance and this has big implications for at least four groups of people: Environmentalists, conservatives, economists, and policymakers.

Posted by orrinj at 4:28 AM

YOU ARE WHAT YOU TOLERATE:

Cultural Clash Fuels Muslims Angry at Online Video (DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, 9/17/12, NY Times)

From one side came the gale of anger at America's decade-old war against terrorism, which in the eyes of many Muslims in the region often looks like a war against them. And from the other, the new winds blowing through the region in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, which to many here means most of all a right to demand respect for the popular will.

"We want these countries to understand that they need to take into consideration the people, and not just the governments," said Ismail Mohamed, 42, a religious scholar who once was an imam in Germany. "We don't think that depictions of the prophets are freedom of expression. We think it is an offense against our rights," he said, adding, "The West has to understand the ideology of the people."

Even during the protests, some stone throwers stressed that the clash was not Muslim against Christian. Instead, they suggested that the traditionalism of people of both faiths in the region conflicted with Western individualism and secularism.

Youssef Sidhom, the editor of the Coptic Christian newspaper Watani, said he objected only to the violence of the protests.

Mr. Sidhom approvingly recalled the uproar among Egyptian Christians that greeted the 2006 film "The Da Vinci Code," which was seen as an affront to aspects of traditional Christianity and the persona of Jesus. Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and other Arab countries banned both the film and the book on which it was based. And in Egypt, where insulting any of the three Abrahamic religions is a crime, the police even arrested the head of a local film company for importing 2,000 copies of the DVD, according to news reports.

"This reaction is expected," Mr. Sidhom said of last week's protests, "and if it had stayed peaceful I would have said I supported it and understood."

In a context where insults to religion are crimes and the state has tightly controlled almost all media, many in Egypt, like other Arab countries, sometimes find it hard to understand that the American government feels limited by its free speech rules from silencing even the most noxious religious bigot.

Posted by orrinj at 4:22 AM

AMERICA ISN'T LIKE TV:

Americans Underestimate Number of Protestants By More Than 50% : Survey suggests Americans overstate size of religious minorities. (Jeanie Groh, 9/14/12, RNS) 

The typical American underestimates how many Protestants there are in the U.S., and vastly overestimates the number of religious minorities such as Mormons, Muslims, and atheist/agnostics, according to a new study.

Grey Matter Research and Consulting asked 747 U.S. adults to guess what proportion of the American population belongs to each of eight major religious groups: Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, atheist/agnostic, believe in God or a higher power but have no particular religious preference, and any other religious group.

The average response was that 24 percent of Americans are Catholic, 20 percent are Protestant, 19 percent are unaffiliated, 8 percent are Jewish, 9 percent are atheist or agnostic, 7 percent are Muslim, 7 percent are Mormon and 5 percent identify with all other religious groups.

Respondents were correct on Catholics -- 24 percent of the country is Catholic. But according to the 2008 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 51 percent are Protestant, 12 percent are unaffiliated, 2 percent are Jewish, 4 percent are Atheist/Agnostic, less than 1 percent are Muslim, 2 percent are Mormon and 4 percent identify with all other religious groups.

Posted by orrinj at 4:19 AM

SHOUTING AT THE MAN IN THE MIRROR:

Catholics Then, Muslims Now (DOUG SAUNDERS, September 17, 2012, NY Times)

THE short, crude anti-Muslim video that sparked a wave of violent protests across the Middle East did not emerge from an obscure pocket of extremism; it is the latest in a string of anti-Muslim outbursts in the United States. In August, a mosque was burned down in Missouri and an acid bomb was thrown at an Islamic school in Illinois. The video's backers are part of a movement that has used the insecurity of the post-9/11 years to sow unfounded fears of a Muslim plot to take over the West.

Their message has spread from the obscurity of the Internet and the far right to the best seller lists, the mainstream media and Congress. For the first time in decades, it has become acceptable in some circles to declare that a specific religious minority can't be trusted.

During the Republican primaries, Muslims were accused of harboring plans for "stealth Shariah." A group of five Republican House members, led by Michele Bachmann, groundlessly accused two prominent Muslim federal officials of loyalty to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Another Republican representative, Joe Walsh of Illinois, used a campaign rally to suggest that Muslims in the Chicago suburbs were plotting to commit terrorist attacks. In New York City, the police spied on thousands of Muslims for six years without producing any evidence that could lead to an investigation.

The view that members of a religious minority are not to be trusted -- that they are predisposed to extremism, disloyalty and violence; resist assimilation; reproduce at alarming rates, and are theologically compelled to impose their backward religious laws on their adopted home -- is not new. From the 19th century on, distrust, violence and, eventually, immigration restrictions were aimed at waves of Roman Catholic immigrants.