Sunday, May 20, 2007


this picture not taken in russia

I’ve heard that reading, and personal libraries, once status symbols in old USSR days, are no longer fashionable in the new Russia.

I’ve heard that there may be something for La Luna to exploit out of the environmental funding in the recent Federal budget. I’ll be looking into that more closely soon.

I’ve read that the second, third and fourth Presidents of the USA may have been atheists, or at the very least non-Christian deists, a la Thomas Paine. The first and fifth Presidents too perhaps. It should be noted that these five – Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe, were all among that country’s finest leaders. How have the mighty fallen.

Jefferson -liked Jesus sans miracles

I heard that the only economies in the world that aren’t growing at present are those of East Timor and Zimbabwe. No doubt an exaggeration, but it nicely contextualizes the supposed economic credentials of the incumbents [I mean the Howard government for my international readers hoho] come election time.

I’ve read a review of Hitchens’ anti-religion book by Jack Miles, whose own book on God [that’s the Judeo-Christian one] so intrigued me last year. Miles, a professor of English and religious studies and apparently a liberal Christian, is only mildly critical, admonishing Hitchens largely for being overly polemical and insufficiently substantive. However, he makes an initial, somewhat gloating point I must take issue with:

The atheist alternative has been around from the beginning, after all. How dispiriting it must be for the neo-atheist pamphleteer to pick up "The Cambridge Companion to Atheism" and read even Chapter 1, "Atheism in Antiquity."

The answer is that it isn’t at all dispiriting, because the fact is – and the evidence for this is overwhelming – that atheism was almost never used before the eighteenth century except as a term of abuse. Before the Enlightenment, the term and its variants [infidel being the most common] were used to demonise those who either weren’t members of the critic’s religion or didn’t toe the orthodox line within that religion. Most condemned and persecuted ‘atheists’ were far from being atheists at all, and positive atheism is a very recent vintage indeed.

I’ve read that Paul of Tarsus, about whom opinion is so vastly varied, was a masochistic, misogynistic anti-intellectual and thanatophiliac, and that Christianity’s spread, under the noses of authorities, was largely due to its grassroots anti-intellectual formatting by Paul, who advised his uneducated followers to kowtow to local authorities. Not considered much of a threat, it spread as a message of hope [in the next world of course] among the numberless disenfranchised peoples of the Roman Empire. When Constantine came to power, he considered it expedient to convert, to please the ranks of poor Christians in his armies, and from that day forward the real repression began, of intellectual pagans in the name of the saviour god of the rabble. Shades of Pol Pot, the Bolshies and so many other revolutions.

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