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Sorry it's taken me so long to post this continuation of our previously-msg'd discussion regarding your The Evolution of Christianity node. I've preserved your msgs and will respond, though I should warn you that I'm totally high on blow right now and may be more incoherent than usual.

Well... I think you've misunderstood me a bit... pascal's wager is an anti-meme to christianity. Being aware of the wager makes one less likely to believe in christianity.

Maybe it's the term "meme" that's throwing me off. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pascal-wager/ indicates that the Wager was intended by Pascal (a devout Christian) as an argument for belief in God. Christianity doesn't enter into his argument -- I would suspect that since Pascal believed there is only one God, the first step in following him would be to accept his existence, an argument for which decision he then presented. So...are you then saying that because it is not a convincing argument for this it therefore becomes an anti-meme against Christianity?

Also, the Christian apologists I've read so far tend to be highly educated people who are aware of Pascal's Wager and have not found their faith shaken by it. What leads you to say that awareness of the Wager makes one less likely to believe?

most people are not aware of pascal's wager, however, and as such, the heaven and hell meme still does a good job scaring/bribing christians into being loyal.

Hmm. Have the Christians you've met been people who live in fear of the possibility of their going to Hell, or who are easily bribed? I'm picturing an army of greedy, cowardly creatures, alternately twitchy and grasping. This doesn't fit the personalities of most of the folks I know, so I'm genuinely curious about your experience.

I will however admit that we believe just about everyone has reason to be concerned at the possible consequences -- whether they come in this world or the next -- of how we choose to live our lives. I think it's obvious to anyone that each of us is capable of evil, and that we all do wrong however much we try to do right. We believe that therefore the solution lies in action from outside ourselves. But personally, this line of reasoning wasn't what made me a believer so I guess I won't go too far into it.

pascal's wager essentially says that because there are many different types of christianity that say "we're right and if you follow the others you'll go to hell" there is no way that anyone can pick and choose... i mean.. if there are 26 different versions of christianity, you have only a 1 in 26 chance of going to heaven, but a 25 in 26 chance of hell. At this point, the individual is supposed to realize the absurdity of the situation, throw up their hands in the air, and become an agnostic... well... that's what's supposed to happen according to me, anyway.

Hooray! My brief career as a philosophy major was not a total loss, for this reminds me of the dilemma of Buridian's Ass, in which a donkey starves to death because he cannot choose between two equally attractive bales of hay. The thing is, unless someone lives in a small town where there is only one church, pretty much every convert is aware that there are many different Christian sects, groups, denominations, churches and communities out there to choose from -- and while in the world of philosophy you'd think this would make it impossible to choose, in the real world people manage to do so.

Here's the thing. There is one Christianity, which has within it many different interpretations, traditions, methods of organization, and styles of worship. Some of these groups will claim (sometimes vehemently) that their community's interpretations, traditions, etc. are more faithful to God's intent than the others. When you become a Christian, you're not swearing allegiance to a specific club because you believe that you'll go to Hell if you don't -- you're making the decision to follow Jesus. This makes you a Christian. Whatever community you then join in order to live out that decision is your second choice.

Becoming a Christian is actually much simpler than having to choose from among a gazillion different groups. To become a Christian you do three things: believe in Jesus Christ, repent of your past misdeeds, and be baptized in his name. That's it. Given this, you can see that there are Christians in all of these supposedly mutually exclusive denominations, forming what one might call an "invisible church", the true membership of which is known only to God. Even the most hard-headed partisan will likely, if pressed, admit this (though he may feel that these True Christians should be brought over to the "right side" as soon as possible, as wherever they are now is doubtless filling their heads with lies.)

By the way, I don't mean to imply that believing and repentance are necessarily things that come to someone in a flash. They are a process. For me, when I became a Christian, belief was not a matter of suddenly saying, "Thirty seconds ago I was a doubter, now I am unshakably sure that Jesus is the Son of God." I had come to suspect that there is a God, and after much searching and struggle I decided to trust Jesus as someone who could lead me to the answers to my many questions -- and who I was at least willing to believe was the Son of God though I didn't fully understand yet how that could be. Likewise, real repentance came later when I had a better understanding of myself and could perceive my faults and weaknesses more clearly.

I actually have modified my writeup to address the good issue you raise about not all denominations being mutually exclusive... the point is, as long as there are still multiple versions that are exclusive it doesn't matter what the other denominations that get along with each other do... those versions that are exclusive still say that everyone else (including those who follow non-exclusive denominations) is going to hell and so pascal's wager still holds.

See, I disagree. It is entirely possible to choose which community of faith is right for you -- it just takes a little effort. Hell, I did it and I'm constantly second-guessing myself.

I'm not as well versed in the bible as you, so if i'm wrong, please tell me, but doesn't christianity slowly become more of a softer, loving religion over time? if this is the case, could you let me know exactly which specific aspects become softer? if this isn't the case.. obviously let me know that too.. thanks.

Erm. This is tough, because from the very beginning Christianity has been accused both of being too harsh and being too soft. For example, look at Jesus' alarming words in Matthew 5 31-32:

Furthermore it has been said, "Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce." But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.

This can seem terribly harsh. As someone who is married to a divorced woman myself, I'm certainly taken aback! But then look what happens in John 8:

Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?" This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."

Taking this all together, you have a religion whose members firmly believe in the danger of sin, but are constantly reminded to examine themselves first before presuming to judge others. Human nature being what it is, this is often the hardest thing to do and history is full of failures of this sort.

Some believe that the Old Testament presents a harsher picture of God than the new, but I feel that for the most part this is a result of focusing on its stories of God's anger and ignoring the more frequent passages revealing God's love. Ezekiel 33 speaks directly to this:

Again, when I say to the wicked, "You shall surely die," if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live. Yet the children of your people say, "The way of the LORD is not fair."

I also believe that when a community is in danger (as the early Christians certainly were) moral imperatives take on an urgency that lessens when life becomes easier -- at such a time, a transgression that sows anger and mistrust within the congregation could eventually lead to its destruction, and in some cases arrest, prison, and even execution.

Finally, in the Bible and in the history of the church we see a continuing revelation of God's nature. The implications of Jesus' teaching become clearer as time goes on, and causes Christians to take a stand against things that may have been accepted in earlier eras. For example, though the institution of slavery is never explicitly condemned in the Bible, most Christians found as time went on that living out Christ's command to "love your neighbor as yourself", and the doctrine that all human beings are made in God's image, required them to oppose it.

I am considering adding a discussion about the idea of "love" and what it's effect on christianity has been.... I wonder if it is outside the scope of my w/u, however...

Yeah, although it's certainly part of Christianity's evolution, to discuss it fully here would require a lot of space. I guess it depends on how deeply you want to get into it -- whole libraries of material have been written on the subject.

Today, I finally got my cable modem fixed. I bought the broadband access about a month ago, but it wouldn't work on my ethernet card. I dont know what was wrong. I would try it, it would work for about a page, and then the next page wouldn't load up and it would tell me that I wasn't connected. I was like "what the fuck u stupid whore, ure mother fucking connected, load up the fucking site." I was going crazy. About a week later, after talking to the morons at the tech support at the cable provider, as well as talking to the tech support at the company who sold me the computer (Gateway), and that not working at all because they are all so useless. Damn them all. Damn them all to hell.

After about a week or so, I figured that I would try using the cable modem off the USB, and to my suprise it worked. Yet it was about half as times as slow as the ethernet card when it was workin. (USB gave me about 1000kbps, ethernet card gave me at times 2000kbps). I would try the computer on the ethernet card, in another room, and it would work. I am thinking what the hell. Finally, I tried it and it worked normally for several hours, in the room i want it to work in. I am thinking their is some interference in the room or something. If anyone knew what was the problem, would you /msg me and tell me if the problem pops up again.

I just don't undersatnd boys.

The latest case is someone I've been secretly crushing over for the past year and a half. Saturday night things finally reached a boiling point and we ended up getting physical for the first time. Now, I don't really know what to do about him. There's a physical distance between us of about an hour, which is the most immediate impedance to my trying to start something with him, but there's also the fact that I'm still unemployed and short on funds to put towards fun in general. So for the past two days, I've been trying to exchange witty banter with him and keep coming up short. I just can't seem to come up with anything funny to say.

If I don't stop this pattern of crash and burn soon, I know he's going to just get tired of my attempts to be cute and tell me to shut the fuck up or something. I guess even after six years of trying, I still don't know my way around boys. Perhaps the intimidation factor is so high because he's someone I always figured to be out of my league. I feel this need to impress the guy because my stupid brain is convinced he'll get bored with me if I don't. I spend too many minutes trying to figure out what to say, and what I finally end up with comes out sounding so stupid.

Am I thinking too much?

Teke Moore is getting married.

I hadn’t talked to him in about a year. We had been friends in high school, gone to the park at midnight with girls, played in gym, been high school boys. I went to college, he joined the Air Force.

Teke is getting married.

In college I felt as if I was maturing, as if I was learning things my other friends hadn’t. I felt like I was slowly turning into the real Bacon, the man who could handle things that were thrown at him. Planning concerts, parties, dorm events, tutoring, joining a fraternity, I was busying myself in ways I hadn’t ever done before. But in the back of my mind I knew I was faking it.

Teke invited me to his wedding.

He joined the air force, been through basic training, learned how to fix any aircraft, and is the crew chief for C-130’s at Braggs air force base in North Carolina. He was engaged. He told me he was going to the Middle East in a couple of months.

I was invited to Teke’s wedding.

He had a career he loved, a woman he loved, and a future. I had memories of dorm parties that few people came too, of failed relationships, and a slight dread of working. I told him I felt like a child talking to a man. He said he gets that a lot.

Someone is marrying Teke.

I’ll be 20 in December, finally shedding the binary digit that has been with me for almost a decade. I will no longer be a teenager, and become by definition a young adult. But talking to my friend with his career and his wife to be and his future made me feel younger than I have felt for a long time. Suddenly all the soap operas I have been involved in recently have seemingly melted away, and my mental priorities have been slightly rearranged.

Teke Moore is getting married . . .

. . . and I’m tired of being a kid.

I guess in retrospect this w/u sounds a bit whiney, but I think it perfectly conveys exactly what I was thinking when I finished talking to him, so I stand by it. Thanks must go to lizard for his advice.

I don’t mean to complain, but, it is 3:30am and I am still up. I suppose I am lucky though, I have a friend who is willing to look over my English paper (it is a final) for me, he is great, and I care about him a whole bunch. *sigh* I don't know why I am writing this, but hey, if anything ever goes really really bad in my life, at least someone will have something to look back on, and remember pseudo-fondly right? So, my Jenn is in the hospital, they think she has some sort of blood-infection…. She almost died Sunday, her fever was so high. They had her on IV's because she wasn't eating or drinking, but now she is doing both; of course they still have her on the IV because of the medication. I should visit her tomorrow after my last class of the semester….I donno, maybe I will sleep. Probably not. It has been so hot here the last two days, it has been really unseemly…the sun is too bright, and the humidity is too high, and I don’t feel like going to work. I am glad I am not scheduled for the rest of the week, it is nice to not have anything I have to do. Very nice. I feel like I should add some kind of poetry or something to this daylog to make it worth reading, but alas, I have been writing my paper on poetry for the last three days, and cannot think of anything original; so you are pretty much stuck with my useless babble. Hope you don’t mind.

I haven't seen friends in a long time, I have been too busy. For that matter, I haven't really seen any of my family for more than an hour here and there in at least a week, I think my mom (whom I live with) is starting to feel like a landlady instead of a mother, and I pity her, I really feel sorry about it, but there isn't much that can be done about it until finals are over. I am sorry if you are reading this, and you happen to be one of the people I have been neglecting, but feel better, I have been neglecting myself as well; in fact, I the only reason I remember my last meal is for the fact that it was the first one I ate with my mom yet this week (shock); and I cannot remember my last shower, or when I went to bed last night. Oh, this is what I looked forward to as a child, I wish I could go back, but alas forward is the only direction this train is going.

I am so weary. My mind is racing, but my body aches. I suppose sleep is for the weak, huh? Why go to bed at this point, I am more than half way though the night…. Might as well just keep going, and get some caffeine *laughs* we will see what happens. It all rests on when I am done. I shall stop my ranting now… TTYL, take care, and keep your sanity.

I want.

I want a woman who is sexy, appreciates me and likes to wear thong bikini briefs. I want a computer that is worth working on. I want a book deal. I want peace and quiet. I want to be independently wealthy. I want time (oodles of it). I want to finish my book. I want to be published. I want to come to the cafe without being bothered, just once. I want a car that gets good gas mileage, won't break down on me, looks great, serves my purposes and won't cost an arm and a leg. I want a decent Internet connection. I want a home of my own. I want to be loved. I want to be a human success (as opposed to a human failure). I want a full stomach when I go to sleep at night. I want guiltless sex that actually means something and isn't going to cause me either an emotional or physical problem somewhere down the road. I want this country/world to grow up and get its shit together. I want to live in a place where the weather is great, but isn't dangerous to live in because everyone else wants to live in such a place, especially idiots and criminals. I want to have children one day. I want a new wardrobe. I want people to understand that Australia is an island, too, but a damn cool one which I hope to see one day. I want more than one piece of furniture that actually fits my accomodations. I want to hear some original thoughts instead of people quoting original stuff and cackling at what they think is their sharp wit. I want my friends to grow some brain stems and stop asking me advice on things that they are perfectly capable of figuring out on their own. I want to find my own voice, one that resonates and makes people go, "Damn." I want mobility and freedom and the chance to move without borders or fetters. I want to have freaky monkey sex with twins without the freak or the monkey. I want to be someone's hero. I want to be able to stop time on a dime. Just to say that I've done it and I know what it feels like.

I want a lot of things- all those and more. But life is like that, isn't it? It leaves you wanting. If you ever die doing everything you've wanted to do in life, if you ever accomplish every single goal, can you say your life is complete? Or will you end up finding something else you want to do throughout your adventures? A life without wanting is a life lived too fast. It's good to aim for the stars and hit the moon- after all, some people never even get past the atmosphere, too afraid of their feet leaving the ground.

I am a dreamer by nature. Unfortunately, I live in a world where dreams are not always welcome, where a person isn't accorded respect unless they show responsibility at some point. I understand this and am even supportive of it. Because, as much as I like to dream, I am also pragmatic. Some dreams are never realized.

But it's nice to dream.

It really is sort of amazing how a pair of pants can ruin your day. I wore these pants a year ago; a kicky pair of cut off khakis that made me look like a sun-kissed yachting girl, a teen queen at summer camp, or some such shit. Then today, being at the very bottom of the pile of clean clothes, I was forced, a year later, to put them on and wear them to work.

Not only was the waist tight, so tight as to leave an attractive, blood constriction pink marking on my skin, but it gave me a cameltoe that you could not only smuggle a deck of cards in, but was quite frankly, painful. Even walking around with my stomach completely sucked in, did no good. I was a chubby corporate gal trying to be a summer camp vixen

So I had to face it. I've become a big fat cow. So big fat cow am I, that I was forced to go to Filene's Basement to purchase a pair of yoga pants and some shorts on sale, two sizes larger than the shorts that had ruined my day.

Of course I'm more comfortable now...but what does that matter? I'm still fatter than I was last year. I'm obsessed with my weight. My therapist says I may have an eating disorder. I just laugh. Wouldn't it be my luck. To have an eating disorder without the side effect of LOSING WEIGHT.

Prank log, August 1, 2002.

So I'd wanted to do this for a few years now. The Berkeley Art Museum has a lot of dada art up on its sixth floor, stuff like Brillo boxes or wind-up machines.

The other day, my friend and I made up some placards with the intent of taking credit for the museum fire alarm and floor plan. Mine, which was for the fire alarm, read as follows:

United States, 1980-present

Red Menace
circa 2002
Gift of the artist
{my IP address}
Down for Warcraft!

My friend took the museum floor plan. His placard read:

Azzer's friend
United States, 1982-present

Smoke from the abyss
21st century
Ink on paper
Gift of the artist
{his IP address}

We walked into the museum today with placards ready, two cameras, and a thing of scotch tape. Very carefully we put the placards up, so as not to gain the attention of the security guards. I worry, however, that we did look a bit suspicious, since it appeared that one of the guards was trailing us.

I figure that the placards will stay up for a while, though. I mean, after all, how often does the museum check them?

Photos soon.

UPDATE: The museum has taken down the placards. We're heavily debating going in and reposting them, or taking credit for another item in the museum.
            The Misnamed Girl

She has a scar,
On her thigh,
Where she carved the word "SLUT",
Oh my...

           She has a SCAR,
           On her THIGH,
           From carving the word SLUT,

                    But just her good platonic friend,
                    Am I.
                    And her silly label,
                    It just won't die.

in the clear

weill in japan: day 30

I've never felt so good to do so badly on a test.

Our class had its midterm today -- at just over two hours of actual work spread across the first three hours, it was longer than many finals that I've had at Carnegie Mellon. I studied as best I could, but I don't have too high expectations for the final grade on it.

The day began with an earlier start than any before it: a 7:10 AM departure, followed by a stop at Mister Donut for a doughnut and a cup of the strongest coffee in Japan. Even over ice, I haven't drank a stronger cup of anything whose name doesn't end with the letter "o." That cup lasted me clear through lunch five hours later. Note to self: stop by Misudo every day.

The first hour was pretty much an extended quiz based on vocabulary and characters from the first three units covered. The second hour's essay turned out okay, but I'm pretty sure I made a few critical grammar mistakes. Then came hour three: The Interview.

The "interview" portion of the exam was the most dreaded part, from what I gathered during pre-exam cramming. It consisted exclusively of reciting portions of the first chapter with improvisation only to make up for bad memory. It teaches nothing about practical Japanese except for the scripted greetings and closings that we were told about. As we've done in the past, we drew cards to determine the order. Each person would "interview" with the person whose cards immediately preceded and followed his or her own. The waiting area was the computer lab, where I brushed up on studying and tooled around on the Web for a while. My card: King, the high card. (Ace was 1 in our system.) Forty minutes later, my first interview began.

The interview took place in the ILC's studio room, a classroom outfitted with bright stage lighting and a video camera installation. When it was my turn to interview with number 12 (Queen), I got to step into the hot light with my professors watching in silence as I fumbled my way through the harder of the two interview portions. In the next round, interviewing number 1 (Ace), I had to do little but sit there and listen for my next cue.

When it was over, the remaining 30 minutes of garbage time were spent in the classroom listening to Japanese music and going over our plan for tomorrow in Harajuku. We meet at the Harajuku station Friday at 9:00 AM -- a later start by 20-30 minutes. (Harajuku is farther away than ICU's Musashi-Sakai station, but I don't have to transfer to a bus.)

Deciding to go it alone for lunch, I spent a little time in the library checking e-mail and keeping in touch with friends, then left campus ignoring the preview session for Saturday's Asakusa trip. I'll figure it out: 8:40 AM at Musashi-Sakai station.

With nothing to do for tomorrow, I felt better today than I have since I arrived here. Both hurdles have been crossed for this week. The pressure is off, and a fun weekend lies ahead. At least one of my plans will have to wait a week; she has to work overtime on Friday evening. Maybe next week.

There are two weeks left in the course, but it already feels like I'm on the home stretch. Everything from here on out looks clear. I did a ton of gift shopping at Kichijoji, leaving just a couple of people left to buy gifts for. Fitting all this stuff into my luggage will be a challenge for another day.


Apparently it's bad etiquette to call a person on their mobile phone while they're at work. That doesn't stop people from leaving their phones on while at work, for some reason.

Milestone: I have attained a perfect score on a song in a rhythm-based game today, acing the easy "Hamtaro" theme on Taiko no Tatsujin 3. It's the first time that I had played the game since last week, due to some pain in my left hand. Today I did just fine. Dance Dance Revolution was another story; I failed on my third and final song, "Twilight Zone." I also tried Pop 'n Music, where you play along with songs using nine large keys, but failed miserably on my very first song. The 13-year-old girl next to me was kicking ass at it, though.

The rains are drenching Tokyo as I write this at around 9:30 PM local time on Thursday. Hopefully they won't drown out the festival scheduled for Saturday.

Most of the people looking at Japanese idol photo books are women, not men. I don't know what the percentages are for people buying the shrink-wrapped photo books, however.

Mister Donut employees speak faster than anyone I've heard yet in Tokyo. Maybe they drink too much of that coffee.

My loathed roommate from the spring 2002 semester is moving into an on-campus apartment with his girlfriend -- who basically moved into my room with him -- in the fall. The kicker: the two of them broke up after they signed the lease, and all of the rooms in the apartment are being used by couples. Switching would be out of the question. There is justice in this world.

Today I saw some out-of-date CD singles on sale outside a music store for ¥10 (8 cents) each. I thought about buying a ton of them, but decided that my space would be better utilized some other way. That's the lowest price tag that I've seen while here.

Speaking of low numbers, savings accounts aren't popular in Japan at all. The reason? To try and stimulate the economy, the base interest rate in Japan is just 0.25%. I saw a bank sign that featured a Japanese savings account with 0.007% interest. If you put 100,000 yen in that account, you'd get 7 yen in interest per year. Fortunately, bank accounts are also available in dollars, euros, British pounds, and other currencies whose home countries offer more favorable rates. (I never thought I'd consider the U.S.'s 2% interest "favorable.")

I need to stop listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio. He angers up the blood.

A 56-year-old grandmother won the top prize of ¥10,000,000 ($83,500) on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" tonight, and bowed humbly to the audience twice: once after they helped her with a question as a lifeline, and again after winning the jackpot. She plans to visit hot springs across Japan with her extended family of 11 people.

Tonight marked the third time that I've had Kentucky Fried Chicken in Japan, and the second time that my host mother purchased it.

The weather won't get me down. August is off to a roaring start.

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