Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Moral Relativity and Religion

The Catholic Church has chosen a new Pope, and while I really do not care very much who the Pope is, not being Catholic, I have noticed a certain trend in the commentary both leading up to the selection and after the announcement. A number of commenters were hopeful of a liberal who would change the docrines of the church to bring it more into line with the sentiments of Western intellectuals, and journalists.

The moral relativity central to the secular humanist philosophy that predominates the thinking of liberals/leftists has at it's central core the notion that there is no right or wrong (except perhaps not suscribing to this philosophy). This is contrary to the teachings of the Judeo/Christian/Muslim God. In the religious writings that emerged from the Middle-East centuries ago is the fundamental doctrine that to obtain salvation (defined in a variety of ways) humanity must conform itself to the Will of God, and not the other way around.

Moses did not come down from the mount and say, "Hey, I have these stone tablets with the Word of God on them and you have a golden calf, let's try to find middle ground so that no one will be bothered or offended." He condemned the idolatry of the people, went back and got a different set of rules for them, and then took them on a forty year trek through the desert until all those that had worshiped the idol had died before taking them to the promised land.

I am a firm believer in the right of anyone to believe whatever they want. But it really annoys me when people who do not want to believe a religous doctrine, but still want to belong decide that all the church has to do is change its theology to meet their needs when the whole point of Christianity is for individuals to change themselves into what God has decreed they should be not the other way around. If you are unwilling to live as a Catholic or a Primitive Baptist or a Mormon or whatever the particular faith you want to participate in the outward trappings of without living the teachings of that group, then find yourself some other chruch or other social organization that meets your needs and let those that want to worship do so in peace.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Star Spangled Banner

Sfalpahageek commented on the Navy's switch to the "Don't Tread on Me" Ensign and suggested as a similar gesture, the military should sing the fourth verse of the National Anthem rather than the first. I do not disagree, though personally I prefer the third verse.

I admit that I like the use of the "Don't Tread on Me" flag. Telling folks that messing with us is a bad idea is a good thing.

However, the real issue is that I would imagine that most Americans do not even know that the Star Spangled Banner has four verses. While singing all four does take a while, the story is not complete at the end of the first verse. Francis Scott Key, in his poem written after he witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Navy, speaks on behalf of a nation in peril that was rising up to meeting those that threatened it and in end overcome all.

The words

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro' the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when free-men shall stand
Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Taken from Infoplease.

Sunday, April 10, 2005


I did watch Sahara yesterday and it was just what I expected. A fun buddy romp with McConahey (sp) being himself and Steve Zahn being himself. They kept many of the bits from the book, while loosing its central core. Cussler's characters are scientists for the most part and scientific exploration is always central to the stories. In the movie, they are treasure hunters out for the big score.

I find this typical of hollywood. It is so common now that I am surprised that I even notice it. The nihlism exhibited by those in Hollywood, has become the central driving force in their product.


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Sin City

I watched Sin City, a new movie directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller based on Miller's Sin City graphic novels, this past weekend. I think that Rodriquez has created something special here. It is film filled with rather graphic images of violence primarily but also sexual in nature. Despite this, it suggests some positive things about filmmaking. The film cost only 40 million dollars to make, compared to Sahara opening next week that cost around 160 with much of the Sin City budget going to the outstanding cast. The ability to create locations digitally may really significantly change how movies are made. Done well, worlds that up until now were cheesy stages with tin foil and Dr. Who props can be fully realized. I suspect that it will take as much or more talent to create digital worlds as it does to shoot in the real world. Story will also be essential, just ask George Lucas who has become so enamoured of his CGI that he has forgotten plot and character.

Rodriguez and Miller have created a world where characters can spout incredibly noir comments and get away with it. There is one that references a palsy patient doing brain surgery that was truly unique.