Gary Wills has written a book questioning the legitimacy of priests in Catholic heirarchy. In light of their recent pedophilic history this question takes on greater relevance. This book joins a long list of others, including the works of Galileo and Luther, which raised uncomfortable questions about Catholic belief and its more extreme expressions. Like them, it will be condemned or ignored. Let one brick fall and the whole Gothic edifice may crumble…
Randall Balmer | NYTimes Book Review | 15 Feb 13
Garry Wills wants us to know that he really bears no animus toward priests. Truly. Some of his best friends, not to mention his mentors, are priests. His quarrel is not with priests but with the specious notion of the priesthood, which, he argues, finds no precedent in the early church and precious little warrant in the New Testament.
Jesus never claimed for himself the mantle of priesthood, nor did he, a Jew, hail from the priestly tribe of Levi. The sole reference to Jesus as priest in the New Testament, Wills says, occurs in the Epistle to the Hebrews, an enigmatic letter of unknown provenance. The writer of the letter introduces the notion of Jesus as priest not in the line of Aaron (Levite) but in the tradition of Melchizedek, the obscure Canaanite king of Salem who makes a cameo appearance in Genesis and is mentioned again briefly in Psalm 110.
10th-century Bible at St. Mary of Zion, Aksum, Ethiopia.
An interesting commentary on the value of a free markets and trade, particularly as they relates to war and peace. There is a never ending debate about economic expansion versus retrenchment and protectionism. The thoughts shared here illuminate a facet of that question that is often overlooked…
The Value of Free Trade
Rabbi Johnathan Sacks | YouTube | 23 Jan 13
________________________________________________________________________________ Jonathan Sacks is the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, the largest synagogue body in the UK.
The debate over gun control in this country has been going on for many years. It appears that no amount of violence or busloads of slaughtered school kids is enough to stop it. The crazier this country gets the more people reach for their Glocks. Amidst all the violence I have not heard or read any authentic reports of how all this armament actually succeeded in protecting anyone. In fact one report quoted an onlooker to the Gabrielle Giffords shooting as saying he opted to not use the weapon he was carrying for fear he would be mistaken as a partner of the shooter. So what is this argument really all about? This writer has an interesting reply to that question…
Both Sides Have Something to Fear
David Ropeik | NYTimes | 7 Jan 12
Lots of statistics are being thrown around in the debate about whether guns make society safer or more dangerous. But the gun control argument is intensely emotional because it is about so much more than public safety. Guns have become symbols in our polarized society, figurative weapons in a war of conflicting cultural values that is compelled by deep and ancient instincts.
Humans are social animals. We have evolved to depend on our group, our tribe, for our health and safety. So we adopt views and positions that align with those of our group, in order to be accepted and supported — and protected — as a member in good standing. Agreeing with the group also helps protect us because social unity helps our tribe prevail in the competition with other tribes for control of society in general. So we see and interpret the facts about guns, or any issue, through these deep lenses.
A poignant commentary on life and belief from Maurice Sendak and Terry Gross…
An Illustrated Talk With Maurice Sendak
Terry Gross (with drawings by Christoph Niemann) | NYTimes and NPR | 31 Dec 12
________________________________________________________________________________ Maurice Sendak was an American writer and illustrator of children’s literature. He was best known for his book Where the Wild Things Are, first published in 1963. He died in May 1012 at his home in Danbury CT. Terry Gross is the host and co-executive producer of Fresh Air, an interview format radio show produced by WHYY-FM in Philadelphia and distributed throughout the United States by National Public Radio.
________________________________________________________________________________ Neal deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist and science communicator. He is currently the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space and a research associate in the department of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. From 2006 to 2011 he hosted the educational science television show NOVA ScienceNOW on PBS and has been a frequent guest on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Real Time with Bill Maher, and Jeopardy!. It was announced on August 5, 2011, that Tyson will be hosting a new sequel to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage television series.
America’s “War on Drugs” is actually a war on blacks, hispanics and the poor using drugs to rationalise the systematic imprisonment and disenfranchisement of millions of people. Lumped into these statistics are those who have been arrested, tried and convicted of ingesting a substance that has been in use by humans since the dawn of history yet which the Federal government considers more dangerous than cocaine and methamphetamine but worthy of more research as a source of medicinal aid and comfort. It is time this insane policy is ended. To their great credit the citizens of Washington and Colorado agree…
Marijuana Prohibition Should End
Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch | Nation of Change.com | 12 Nov 12
In the coming days and weeks, critics will try to minimize what voters in the US states of Colorado and Washington accomplished by backing referenda permitting marijuana legalization and regulation. They will likely produce puns and editorial gags about a legislative coup for “hippies” hosting patchouli-scented victory celebrations. They will be tempted to reduce the story to witticisms about hedonism and decadence in America’s free-thinking mountain states. But such reactions will be wrong.
In fact, America’s disastrous preoccupation with marijuana prohibition is more than a story of a relatively harmless substance being sent into legislative exile. Rather, it is part of the larger story of the country’s misguided “war on drugs,” which has resulted in the incarceration of more than two million people at any given time. It is a story of lawmakers branding young people with criminal records for actions that they may well have taken in their own youth – but without getting caught.
The Amaz!ng Meeting (TAM) is an annual celebration of science, skepticism and critical thinking. People from all over the world come TAM each year to share learning, laughs and the skeptical perspective with their fellow skeptics and a host of distinguished guest speakers and panelists. The speaker here is Sean Carroll, Professor of Theoretical Physics at Cal Tech. His presentation is probably the most coherent and stunningly simple explanation of how the universe works that I have ever heard. See if you don’t agree…
From Particles to People
Sean Caroll | TAM | 19 Oct 12
________________________________________________________________________________ Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology, and a blogger at Cosmic Variance. He has appeared on TV shows such as The Colbert Report and Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman. His most recent book is From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time.
When I ride a bike where we live I am in direct competition for space with cars and trucks. They always win. Years ago the idea that people would stop smoking in public places was considered radical, impossible, crazy. Today providing well lit and safe bike paths everywhere is considered too costly, politically inconvenient, impossible. As gasoline prices and healthcare costs continue to rise that thinking will go up in smoke along with cigarettes…
A small but very nice expression on beauty and life by Richard Feynman…
Richard Feynman on Beauty
Richard Feynman | YouTube | 2 Oct 11
________________________________________________________________________________ Richard Feynman was an American theoretical physicist known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics, and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics (he proposed the parton model). For his contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman, jointly with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga, received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965. He developed a widely used pictorial representation scheme for the mathematical expressions governing the behavior of subatomic particles, which later became known as Feynman diagrams. During his lifetime, Feynman became one of the best-known scientists in the world. In a 1999 poll of 130 leading physicists worldwide by the British journal Physics World he was ranked as one of the ten greatest physicists of all time.
Feynman assisted in the development of the atomic bomb and was a member of the panel that investigated the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. In addition to his work in theoretical physics, he has been credited with pioneering the field of quantum computing and introducing the concept of nanotechnology. Richard Feynman held the Richard Chace Tolman professorship in theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology.