Here be a post generated from my “Following 1,396 blogs” Tumblr dashboard page…
- kohenari.net ⁂ Not The Best Model ― The Peace Prize ― Of Dogs, Ovens, Movie Theatres, Restaurants, Bathrooms, and Gun Shows: A… ― New Policy ― BDS at Brooklyn College ― White History Month ― Comment of the Day ― Complex Heroes ― I Double Down
- notadinnerparty ⁂ vvtvrmom: I just looked outside to check the patriarchy and apparently it’s… ― soycrates: endreal: avatar-addiction: nicotineenema: Shout out to girls who… ― How to Have the Best Pregnancy Ever, by Tracie Egan Morrissey ― You’ll Love Her! She’s Crazy! ― Thanks, tips! ― foxnewsofficial: foxnewsofficial: i treat my body like a temple but i’m a 16th… ― Debating Women as Deacons in the PCA/RCC, or, Please Stop Before I Vomit ― The ULTIMATE guide to the gun safety debate ― Dear Vancouver:
- invisiblelad ⁂ GIANT-SIZE X-POSITION: The “Uncanny” Brian Bendis - Part 1 ― riddlemetom: unfollower: I like how sweden just decided one day that gender is… ― No one flip out but, ― xamotomax said: sorry for your loss xamotomax likes… ― They named him Slade. Only present for 5 days and… I can’t imagine… ― Freedom To Marry: Everything You Need To Know About The Two Same-Sex Marriage… ― One of the biggest lies you are told is that conforming, that acceptance of the… ― Kelly Sue DeConnick On the Secret Behind that New Captain Marvel Costume ― I just got the most awful news about wonderful people I no longer live near. The…
- kateoplis ⁂ “I am appalled by Bridezillas. I should make it clear that I have never… ― “In modern America we believe racism to be the property of the uniquely… ― “It might seem hard to believe, but we have about the same number of hairs… ― “How did we become neurochemical selves? How did we come to think about… ― “In the story of how the dog came in from the cold and onto our sofas, we… ― “She was breathing deeply, she forgot the cold, the weight of beings, the… ― Hey Oscar producers: ― "We saw your boobs" ― Seacrest: At 9 years old, what’s this experience been like? Quvenzahne: It…
- adailyriot ⁂ Useful Alt Codes You Should Know ― Excitement and Disappointment ― Dreaming about Native American ― things that were sweet this weekend. ― Thinking about going through a phase of straitening my hair alot so that I can… ― queernonywolf said: my full blood grandmother still identifies as white. She’s… ― So I’m Curious: How many native folks on here have realtives or ancestors who… ― caitlinbuildsthefire: I wanna learn how to make beaded earrings.. Tumblr ndn… ― raw-r-evolution said: Display Picture
- miketodd07 ⁂ “If you board the wrong train it is no use running along the corridor in the… ― I would give anything to hear just one international leader—any… ― bohemianarthouse: ― Take the “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” Pledge. Quickly. ― CNN Sending Eight Times More Staff to Royal Wedding Than to Japan ― Richard Rohr Webcast Tomorrow (March 18) ― Prayer For Japan ― Palestinians demand the opening of Shuhada Street ― COUNTER CULTURAL
- thecallus.com ⁂ Rand Paul, Progressives, And Lying To Yourself About Freedom of Expression ― Someone really needs to translate that crying wolf fairy tale into North Korean.… ― I swear to fuck that Americans will fall for the same fucking hole a hundred… ― Oh, hey Ally Financial failed the stress test, gee what do they do, oh, super… ― What IS it about drones that turns otherwise reasonable people into raving… ― Thank god he filibustered for 13 hours because I read that Times article about… ― But this is fun, now everyone can anoint Rand Paul as a freedom warrior until… ― MR. PRESIDENT, ARE YOU AUTHORIZED TO HOKEY POKEY? CAN YOU TURN YOURSELF ABOUT… ― i’m playing a game, help me?
- ahandsomestark ⁂ jenesaispourquoi: professorsparklepants: Why does everyone say “house-wife” or… ― rnedia: pro tip: write your useless comments in the tags ― dontblink91011: luigiman: my cousin asked me what my favorite season was and i… ― Also I really love how there are people labeling themselves southern… ― Its a sad day when I’ve gotten so lazy I’d rather argue on the… ― Remember that time we let George W Bush run our country for 8 years. ― unimpressed2chainz: i’ll never forget that hollywood reporter director’s round… ― robb, 17, westeros. king in the north. chances are you know my name, but NOT my… ― heightofthefall: i’m on tumblr all the time because i need constant reassurance…
- sidoniob ⁂ haroldisdumb: we could be married and i still wouldnt text u first ― smokeporch: green-satan: trying to leave tumblr GIRLS ONLY, jk kinda! ― la-meilleure-amie: Everyone SAYS they want a fairytale wedding but when I show… ― how to locate the blog settings on your tumblr account ― coneyisland-: it was the busta rhymes, it was the worsta rhymes ― did-you-kno: Source ― zubat: Blood is thicker than water but maple syrup is thicker than blood so… ― Derpastrology: Behind the scenes ― What do you see in that guy?
Problem is, it seems that the newfangled ways, though they appear more pleasant to the eyes, do not add to efficiency of accomplishing the task. Here, the new Tumblr editor is less responsive, hides features and degrades the editing function.
Blockquote text portions are butchered.
Perhaps it is just Markdown users that are negatively affected, but I have seen other complaints about the new editing panel too. Now, I understand the WYSIWYG lure, but I prefer WYSIWYM (What You See Is What You Mean). Though here, I am not even presented with such a view frame nor is there an option anymore to “preview” a post.
Also, there seems to be added finger taps to the process — select from a pulldown, then tap the button again if you are not enacting the default action (which for a great deal of posts, is not the “default” for many Tumblr users).
Also, as you type your post, and your input content grows larger, you are compelled to page up to invoke menu options (as opposed to a true “text box” that scrolls only the textual content).
A step backwards.
Again, like with the botched queue “enhancements” (though I am grateful that it’s operational with a dearth of glitches now) that befuddle me how this could have been implemented — seemingly blind to the perspective to a heavy, active user of the Tumblr service, developers seem to have a narrow view of how Tumblr is used.
First it was Skitch that butchered its polished screen capture app (after the Evernote acquisition). Then Sweet Tomatoes entered meltdown mode by cratering its bustling restaurants with its flawed FK (Field Kitchen) concept that has its loyal patrons stampeding away. Now, Tumblr… :(
Yesterday, during a lunch time drive, I unplugged the iPhone from the car stereo jack and tuned in to a dose of Rush Limbaugh. I caught Rush in mid-bloviation, putting a positive spin on the recent polling reports showing Romney dips in swing states — proclaiming that given all the institutional weight of society behind Obama, it is simply amazing that the presidential race is still so close. That “The Fed” is behind Obama. “Hollywood” is in Obama’s corner. And, of course, “the Media”.
That nameless, faceless, sinister blob termed “the Media”. Just like “the Man”. A nefarious cabal orchestrating its way via sock puppets. Yes, I am painting a cartoonish depiction, but so often, that is exactly how the term is used. Them, the powers that be, that lord over us little ones. Growing up, in family circles, drizzled in to such talk would also be refrains about “the Jews”. “Speech” that would incite me to boil inside with rage and often respond in anger.
True, that for the modern, pre-internet media age, there was a “manufactured consent”, a regulated space delimiting a agreed upon consensus range of acceptable political ideas. Communists and leftists shunned as well as fringe extremists on the right. A general consensus on the exceptional greatness of America and heralding of Americans as the “good guys” that saved the world from darkness. A collective belief in the wholesale benevolence of capitalism, sprinkled with dollops of liberal dissent at intermittent intervals.
But in the post-factual Age of the Internet, it is not possible to pigeonhole “the Media” as such a consensus entity. Because “the Media” now is squarely defined by the viewer beholding. Political news consumers seek out sources that affirm what they already believe, and there now exists an inexhaustible supply eager to serve up such fare. Which accounts for the prevalence of all those who believe President Obama is Satan incarnate, a Kenyan Muslim Socialist Dictator King who wishes to usurp America’s greatness and cede sovereignty to U.N. demons who worship Moloch. They believe as such because the media that informs their worldview fills their minds with such suppositions and suspicions. Even if allusions are deftly crafted with uncertainty. But, no mistake, it is fear driven message casting. So, “the Media” is now just a screen to fill with whatever we wish it to portray.
And, as media analysts have heralded, the web has segregated us into online spots where the like minded convene. Especially in conservative locales where tribalism is the highest treasured value, and deviance to the party line is treated with name calling, derision and then the banstick is applied. In earlier times, before the explosion of blogs and social media, online discussion sites were often less homogenous. Well, except for the dividing line of technical proficiency that precluded many in the mass public from participating. But in this more primitive age, there was more of a “free speech” ethos in effect. Experiencing having a comment deleted was jarring, because unlike today, it truly felt like being silenced. In 2012, you can create a Tumblr blog (or WordPress/Blogger blog, Twitter, etc.…) in 5 seconds and sound off. So, in essence, most online communities are hives of like minded sorts, which makes for frequenting an exercise in reinforcing preexisting views.
One ubiquitous internet community, however, features a confluence of political perspectives. That be Facebook. There, your family, friends and coworkers “mingle”, er share a news stream where divergent political shots scroll. Perhaps this is a personal quirk, but most of my Facebook friends don conservative stripes. Generally, I refrain from political engagement on the platform, but occasionally I venture into political post land.
This week, I was “unfriended” by someone for posting a dissenting reply to a “Obama is a Muslim” post. I have been “unfriended” before as a result of political dialectic, but those never fazed me much, as the “friends” were those I did not know well (in real life) or loose family relationships. But this one stung a bit, as it someone I know well. Someone that belongs to the same church and has been a part of a church study group that I lead, And family ties in other ways too. And getting “unfriended” in Facebook is even more “silencing” than the old message board censoring. It seems that once “unfriended”, you are unable to see any comments by that individual, which makes for bizarre comment streams where you can read others conversing with a phantom “name” for which you see no comments by.
Sad, for if we stop speaking to each other, it denotes a lift on the escalator of hostility.
We have been DirecTV customers for nearly 15 years. Throughout most of our satellite television subscription history, it has been a mostly pleasant experience.
In a campaign to cut living expenses, as a preliminary step to cutting the cord altogether, we have been “attempting” to rollback all the television extras — most prominently, the NFL Sunday Ticket package, the NHL Center Ice package and some other superfluous fees (like a $5.99 monthly one for “Protection Plan”) I was not even aware was being frizzed out of my pocket. I say “attempting”, because DirecTV has ensured that process is to be circumnavigated in a most Byzantine fashion.
It seems that signing up for services is as easy as a click, but a requests for discontinuing are met with a series of phone calls, calls interrupted by mistransfers, lengthy hold times, and failure to achieve what seemingly the customer service representative assented — a month, two months, etc.… later, the same packages and fees are on the billing statement. I was unable to inform an agent to cancel X, Y and Z — each request needed to be funneled to a another entity (and frequently, with multiple bounces and missteps along the way) that was actually authorized to curtail that particular service or package.
Whine, whine, whine. Yes, #firstworldproblems :D
But just be aware, when dealing with DirecTV (or other businesses that employ the same tactics), that the ease in which new packages are activated is matched by the eventual hassle encountered when the desire to unsubscribe surfaces.
The Upside-Down Kingdom by Donald Kraybill — The Jesus story examined from the perspective of what the culture looked like at the time. At the time I read it (over a decade ago), it really shattered my beliefs about Christianity and what it meant to be a “Christian” (especially in context of growing up Greek Orthodox, and then being exposed to evangelical church in Arizona). The historical backdrop and its relevance explained, illustrating how upside down the kingdom Jesus advanced. Considered in the context, Jesus was more radical than is commonly conceived. Down is up, rich is poor, poverty is luxurious, triumph is gained by losing. Love replaces hate, shalom overcomes revenge, enemies are to be loved, a basin replaces the sword, etc…. This book was a big force in how I was transformed from Christian in word to Christian in deed.
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster — I am due for a reread of this classic. A compendium of inner practice “disciplines” for the practicing Christian.
Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright — It blew my mind and I was compelled to read chapters and passages repeatedly, as it shattered my views of heaven and the afterlife. I found myself going back to scripture and other sources (and even to the point of learning Koine Greek) to puzzle out what Wright is espousing in this truly transformative text. And I am now convinced that most people (including most Christians) hold gnostic and unscriptural viewpoints on heaven.
The Great Turning by David Korten — Not a spiritual, religious or faith book by any stretch, but one that has profoundly influenced my faith. A volume I have read at least a half-dozen times too. Korten sketches out the true 21st century civilization conflict — a struggle of Empire v. Earth Community. One that pits those of an advanced level of “other oriented” consciousness against more fear minded, reciprocity driven folk, with those in the middle tipping the scale. Or to strive to lift the level of consciousness of all. And as I age, no barometer is a better gauge than how many sources from the bibliography I follow up and explore to learn more.
The Powers That Be by Walter Wink — Walter Wink, recently passed away, in this accessible volume (by all means, also explore the entire three volume trilogy — Engaging the Powers, Unmasking the Powers, and Naming the Powers — though the further you go back in time, the more theological nerdy the reading gets) captures and defines “principalities and powers” and serves up a brilliant nonviolent sketch of Jesus and the Kingdom Jesus pronounces. It is absolutely, as the tagline on the book proclaims, theology for the new millennium (originally written in late 1990s). It gave me moorings and language in seeing the Gospel in the light of nonviolence and power under v. power over.
The Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight — Scot McKnight distills Jesus down to a simple “commandment” — to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength, but also to love others as themselves.
Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne — Written during the 2008 election cycle, and presented in an edgy, wonderful publication package (though some of the page backgrounds might be a tad too dark), it offers a journey, both historically and in present times, through the intersection politics of empire and followers of Jesus. As I stated earlier in this missive, I judge the merit of a book largely on the bibliography follow-up, and this volume shines in that respect. I believe I have traversed nearly all the volumes referenced and my faith has certainly been impacted in a positive fashion.
The Mystery of Christ by Robert Farrar Capon — I cannot believe I did not discover the fantabulous Robert Farrar Capon until I reached the end of a Rob Bell book (Love Wins, an OK book (do not see what all the fanfare, hoopla and controversy was about, seemed a bit timid) I had no intention of reading, that Mrs. Naum had left on the coffee table) where I was intrigued with this description "On Jesus in every square inch of creation" of Capon’s book. Over the past year, I have been leading a Bible study of parables of Jesus with Capon’s Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus and it has been faith-altering or faith-evolving. It is one of those things that once you see you cannot un-see. And I just finished Between Noon and Three: Romance, Law, and the Outrage of Grace and can pronounce it just as amazing as The Mystery of Christ.
The Naked Now by Richard Rohr — Christian mysticism from a Franciscan monk, like Capon, also infused with total grace. Followup reads referenced in his notes and bibliography, however, were not as fruitful for me as other books in this list. Not all, mind you. Especially the discovery of historic saints and mystics.
How to Read the Bible by James Kugel — Mis-titled, not really “how to read the bible” but more an examination of the Hebrew Bible (“old testament” for Christians) and the contrast between ancient interpreters and modern biblical scholarship — which rifts against fundamentalist (and many conservative evangelicals I think too) literalism. An orthodox Jewish scholar elucidates the clashes of biblical scholarship against traditional biblical memes. Scholarly writing, but comprehensible to all. Faith reverberations in the sense that respected Bible scholars really do not line up on the stuff that most Christians believe are as plain as the nose on a face.
Some honorable mentions for some titles that just elude cracking this list: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (or just about any title by C.S. Lewis) squeezed off by newer titles; The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevski which all of faith (or non-believers too) should read; The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder but the writing style of Yoder is just so theologically dense for me; Christian Anarchism by Alexandre Christoyannopoulos offers a digest and survey of Christian anarchist thought; The Subversion of Christianity by Jacques Ellul (or any title by Ellul) where Ellul, in the anarchist vein, looks how the state tainted the church; Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics by Jonathan Dudley, a recent read that examines evangelicals and church history.
In composing this list, it is striking the preponderance of newer titles. It is not as if I am not acquainted with the classics — working my way through St. Vladimir’s popular patristics series now, even. But writing bridged by centuries (and often language translation, or idioms from centuries ago) has a hard time speaking to a me placed in 21st century America. When I read St. John of the Cross, or Jonathan Edwards, or Julian of Norwich, or John Calvin, or even G.K. Chesterton, I strain at extracting a cohesive narrative. Yes, there are sentences and passages that shine with brilliance, but on the whole, I seem so preoccupied with the toil of comprehending what exactly is being relayed.
In the political language of today, people who want to keep what they have earned are said to be “greedy,” while those who wish to take their earnings from them and give it to others (who will vote for them in return) show “compassion. ~Thomas Sowell (via laliberty)
Tumblrs — what do you think of this quote?
There is no reason to believe that what anyone owns was “earned”. We can and do question the idea of entitlement to wealth with redistributive policy. I am uncovinced that the dubious belief that someone earned their wealth is worth the real suffering caused by vast disparities in wealth. (via theheritagefoundation).
But these “earners” spoken of, merely are “takers” from “makers”, motivated primarily not by self interest or the “profit motive”, but by a quest for truth, to scratch an itch, to create what hitherto, was only imaginable. These “earners” also have invested in the political machine enough fruits of their interest to ensure the “toll booth” is properly primed, no matter the level of achievement, quantity and/or quality of goods and services provide, or the public interest^H^H^H^H^H^H^H destruction served. These “earners” are, too, reliant upon all the goodies the public dime provides — from prerequisite infrastructure needs (be it an educated workforce, stable electricity grid, communications network, functioning roads and thoroughfares and waterways and airways, etc.…) to reaping privatized treasure treats from the teat of public investment (i.e., the internet, the transistor, the modem, or just about every modern technological post-WWII advance).
Can we really have a conscience or claim to be human and justify the absurd wealth disparity that exists?
All hail homo economicus and the sanctum of moral depravity!
So, if George Wills, or rather his student, is to be believed, Mormons believe that the founding documents of the United States are, quite literally, holy writ. While I would never urge people to discriminate against candidates based on religion, this is an aspect of Mitt Romney’s views that bears scrutiny. Moreover, this idea offers an interesting insight into the ways we read sacred writ.
Second, here is a counterpoint take asserting that Wills is botching Mormonism.
But, on the other hand, there are prominent Mormons of popular media stature proclaiming the essence of what Wills declares. See Glenn Beck channeling Cleon Skousen.
What has Beck been pushing on his legions? “Leap,” first published in 1981, is a heavily illustrated and factually challenged attempt to explain American history through an unspoken lens of Mormon theology. As such, it is an early entry in the ongoing attempt by the religious right to rewrite history. Fundamentalists want to define the United States as a Christian nation rather than a secular republic, and recast the Founding Fathers as devout Christians guided by the Bible rather than deists inspired by French and English philosophers. “Leap” argues that the U.S. Constitution is a godly document above all else, based on natural law, and owes more to the Old and New Testaments than to the secular and radical spirit of the Enlightenment. It lists 28 fundamental beliefs — based on the sayings and writings of Moses, Jesus, Cicero, John Locke, Montesquieu and Adam Smith — that Skousen says have resulted in more God-directed progress than was achieved in the previous 5,000 years of every other civilization combined. The book reads exactly like what it was until Glenn Beck dragged it out of Mormon obscurity: a textbook full of aggressively selective quotations intended for conservative religious schools like Utah’s George Wythe University, where it has been part of the core freshman curriculum for decades (and where Beck spoke at this year’s annual fundraiser).
But shiracoffee shares some thoughts on holy writ and founding documents, and I encourage you to examine the Tumblr output over there:
I love the Hebrew Bible, but I deeply regret the ossification it underwent from history and literature to holy writ. This is not a fate I would wish on the founding documents of my nation.
I do not suppose I’ll ever get the chance to ask Mitt Romney whether he believes that the Constitution is divinely inspired, and what that means to him. I don’t suppose anyone will ask him, because it’s not a made-for-TV discussion. But I think it’s an important thing for all Americans to know.
People want to “think out of the box” and cast poverty or inequality as “eminently solvable”. I’m going to go with no, no it isn’t. I don’t subscribe to that particular weekly. Which isn’t to say that inequality is right - it isn’t - or that I like it. I don’t.
But at the end of the day, I’m insulated from poverty. It doesn’t affect me, so I can “care” without investing any hope into the process. Hope is unnecessary and useless in my worldview. I pay my taxes and give what I can, but beyond that? I’m buying high walls and ammunition before I’m buying the lie that humanity can or will be saved.
This makes me the particular breed of disgusting cracker that pays for rehab but would never take a crackhead into his home. I vote for “systemic solutions” while simultaneously maintaining the conviction that they will fail or never be implemented. That’s because I know that if I throw people enough bones, they’ll get busy chewing on them. Which means they never get back to me.
It’s called limousine liberalism, and being the lesser of many evils, and you best believe the tires on this thing are bulletproof.
But poverty is indeed “solvable”, and this (these United States of America) nation’s economic history is replete with illustration (as well as some other “first world” nations, now further along on the arc of economic justice).
Most Americans today take the existence of a middle class for granted. But it wasn’t always so. And not just in the vast timeline of civilization where economic fortunes have for most of 6+ millenium been pyramid shaped, that is, a few elites on top, a small band of middle class denizens, and then all the rest squabbling for crumbs. But in America too was mired too in this model (even despite advancing economic progress, which did not “trickle down”, and treated most workers as fodder), until the 20th century, when such “welfare state” (as decried by the cult of the right) measures transformed that pyramid shape into a more egalitarian, greater equality “diamond” — with the “middle class” now the wide band in the middle, but yet a small number still in poverty, most of which was due to the legacy of Jim Crow.
Even Lyndon Johnson “War on Poverty”, much scorned by conservatives and neoconservatives, drastically cut poverty.
And what happened here and in other economically enlightened nations can happen anywhere in the world; despite the authoritarian and institutionally corrupt patterns in place that have thwarted it thus far. Or even reverse the Social Darwinist course the U.S. has been charting since the Age of Reagan.
For a bright young man, sometimes you sound like a scowling uncle after knocking down a half-dozen whiskey sours.
Looking at the new group of editors, I see some friends that I’ve made entirely from interacting via Tumblr (like Squashed and PoliticalProf, whose secret identities I promise only to reveal for a tidy sum) and even one of my real-life students, Justin Green (which means that the number of Politics editors from Nebraska is shockingly disproportionate; expect a lot of promoted content about corn, cattle, and the “I-Option” offense).
Of course, I’m also a bit sad that some of my other friends are no longer editing the tag. I think Ilya Gerner, Jeff Miller, Torie DeGhett, and Naum Trifanoff did some great work, all while a whole lot of people were yelling at them. I’m also sad to note that amongst the new slate of editors, you won’t find people of color, women, or anyone who lives outside the United States; I think that’s a very serious omission by the Tumblr staff, especially given the amount and the quality of political blogging on the Tumblr platform by people of color, women and non-Americans. There’s also not much ideological diversity. Say what you will about the previous slate of editors, at least you always knew you’d get a healthy dose of the Mises Institute with your morning coffee.
/thanks, Ari, for the commendatory words :)
Surprised, I was, this morning, when I went to click on “little star icon” and it was not there.
I must admit that in recent weeks I have not been as diligent in promoting #Politics posts. There have been stretches of several days where I did not traverse the Tumblr dashboard and promote a post at all. When I did conduct this task, however, I always strived to boost the insightful tidings that might have scrolled off the radar before enough eyeballs passed over them. Or, to simply keep banging on a slant that the establishment media, or even the internet “newsarati” may have scantly contemplated.
And secret confession time: I am much more curious about what is populating the Tumblr #politics “Popular” top ten board than tracking what is funneling in at any given moment.
Spent several hours on a seventy-plus degree Saturday tagging the last 300+ posts and swapping out “Mastermind” section of notable writers and thinkers with a “Sections” section that contains links to “tagged” Tumblr posts. And in lieu of attacking a project list filled with all sorts of other tasks, joyous or rote. I do realize a design refresh is long overdue here, but every time I attempt it, my grandiose plans are thwarted in midstream by annoyance and frustration. Plus, I soon conclude that I like the basic simplistic, minimalist look here, even in spite of some of the inherent ugliness. But a makeover of the bottom portion of the site was direly needed, especially since the state of Tumblr search is frozen solid in matrix time, locked to February 2011, for most “current” updates. Dearest Tumblr overlords, can you at least publish a public word on your intent to (a) fix the brokenness or (b) announce the removal of this Tumblr blog “feature”?
Since this particular AZspot Tumblr inception, circa February 2007 (yes, it has been 5 years now!), I have relied on “Search” to find posts. First, before Tumblr implemented a search facility, I used Google’s “site:” syntax. But within a year I believe, Tumblr developer(s) created a search function and to this day, it’s inclusion detail is still included on the Tumblr how-to custom theme instruction page. Then one day its behavior appeared erratic and spotty. Sometimes omitting “matching string” results I empirically knew existed, at times truncating list of results, and other times redundantly listing entries. So I began to become reliant upon Google Reader and its search function (as well as adding some other Tumblr RSS I grew fond of). And this was a pleasant state until Google Reader started lopping off its search results. Thus, I ended up in a state where I cannot easily search my voluminous base of posts (30K+).
So, the Tumblr tag quest. Since Tumblr implemented tags, my proclivity for tagging has not been consistent. Mainly because I though “Search” should be able to ferret through the global “bucket” and return textual matches for me, textual matching being always cognizant in my forethought when creating Tumblr posts. But within the past year or so, I started to tag posts. Intermittently at first. Mostly of late. However, recent page restructuring, adding a “Sections” section, has lead to a major dilemma: I’ve been using “dashes” (or hyphen, whatever you term the ‘-’ character) to separate words within a tag. I was not aware, until today, that this breaks the Tumblr
/tagged/:tagname setup. It seems it auto-magically exchanges the dashes for spaces, the spaces that should be the word separator. Silly old school me, expecting a tag to contain no whitespace!
Now it looks like I must rekindle my efforts to build a Tumblr search engine or at least revisit the API documentation to automate a tag repair mission. :(
This draft has been sitting in my queue for quite some time. It’s a passage I lifted from the excellent How to Read the Bible by James Kugel — an orthodox Jew and Harvard scholar. It sat unfinished, as I desired to add some words, but time enough has expired, and I am simply going to share what I clipped (hopefully, Kugel and his publishing house will not be alarmed at the length of the cite and order takedown). It is instructive because Kugel highlights the one place in the Bible where abortion is addressed and elicits some takes that are at complete odds with exegesis of evangelical bible scholars. Wayne Grudem, heralded conservative evangelical authority and of Systematic Theology — a text that sits on the shelf of many evangelical pastors, zeroes in on the passage in Exodus 21 as a anti-abortion dictum in another book, Politics: According to the Bible.
Biblical interpretation was sometimes a manner of life and death, hotly debated by opposing sides. A number of sources report on the existence of different groups in the late biblical period, each of which followed its own biblical interpreters. The New Testament mentions two such groups, the Pharisees and the Sadducees; Josephus speaks of these two as well as a third group. the Essenes, Rabbinic sources such as the Babylonian Talmud mention the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Boethusians. Scholars are still divided as to the precise relationship and affiliations of these groups, but one thing is clear: the disagreements of these groups about biblical interpretation were at the center of what was often a highly charged rivalry, even enmity, among them.
Their disagreements extended over a range of different biblical topics, but among them was one that remains a very controversial subject in our own day: is the fetus in its mother’s womb to be considered a human life? Nowadays, this question has direct implications for the matter of abortion. In ancient times it was connected to abortion as well, but, as we shall see, it influenced other matters of law too.
The Bible does not contain a specific ruling on abortion per se, but it does have one law that seemed to shed light on the question:
When men are fighting and one of them strikes a pregnant woman so that her offspring comes out, and there is no mishap, he [the one responsible] shall be fined in accordance with what her husband shall impose upon him, and it will be given over to adjudication. But if there is a mishap, then you shall give a life for a life [literally a soul for a soul], and eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise. ~Exod.s 21:22-25
What happened here? The Bible seems to be describing two possible outcomes of an accident in which a man who was fighting with someone else ended up striking a pregnant woman by mistake. The first possible outcome—that the woman gives birth but “there is no mishap”—results in the man being fined; the second, where “there is a mishap”, imposes the death penalty on the man.
At first glance it might seem that “there is no mishap” means that mother and baby are fine. But no ancient interpreter read this passage that way. The reason was simple. Normally, in the case of an accident, if no harm resulted, then no fine would be due; if both mother and baby emerged without a scratch, why should the fighter be punished? He meant no harm to her and no harm had been caused. So something bad must have happened. Here is how this passage was translated in the third century BCE by the Jewish makers of the Septuagint, the earliest Greek translation of the Pentateuch:
If two men are fighting and a pregnant woman is struck in her belly, and her child comes out not fully formed, he shall pay a fine. As the woman’s husband shall impose, he shall pay it with a valuation. But if it is fully formed, he shall give a soul for a soul. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burning for a burning, a wound for a wound, a stripe for a stripe. ~Septuagint, Exod. 21:22-25
This translation assumes that, no matter what, the accident described resulted in the death of the fetus. Then what could the Bible have meant by distinguishing between a case in which “there is no mishap” and the one in which there is? It was referring, these translators concluded, to the state of the development of the unborn child. That is, if such an accident and subsequent miscarriage should occur early in the woman’s pregnancy, at a time when the fetus is “not fully formed”, then the man cannot truly be deemed to have killed another human being. He did not cause a spontaneous abortion and thereby killed a potential human being, so he should definitely be fined—but he is not guilty of murder. If, on the other hand, the accident occurred late in the pregnancy, even though the fetus was still in its mother’s womb, it was deemed to be in every sense a human being, since it was already fully formed. Having thus taken another human’s life, the man was subject to the death penalty.
It would follow from this that the Bible deems a fully formed fetus to be in every sense a human being. The law does not define exactly how “fully formed” the fetus has to be, but certainly it would seem that, according to this passage, late-term abortions are nothing less than a form of murder.
However, there was an entirely different way of understanding the same passage. Here is how Jerome translated it in the Vulgate, which was to become the approved translation of the Roman Catholic Church:
If men were fighting and someone struck a pregnant woman and she miscarried but she herself lived, he will be subject to a fine, as much as the women’s husband shall request and as the judges decree. If, however, her death shall follow, let him pay a soul for a soul, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burning for a burning, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise. ~Vulgate, Exod. 21:22-25
According to this understanding, the “mishap” is the death of the mother. That is, in either scenario the fetus dies—apparently it does not matter in Jerome’s interpretation whether the accident occurred in the first or the ninth month of the pregnancy. The only thing that matters is whether or not the mother survives. Underlying this interpretation, therefore, must be the belief that, so long as a fetus is inside its mother, it is not a separate human being. Instead, the fetus is, as rabbinic interpreters (who had espoused the same approach as that adopted in the above translation) explained, a “limb of the mother” until its head emerges from the womb.
This difference in interpretation had the most serious consequences for daily life—and not just with regard to abortion. A common occurrence in the ancient world was that of a woman who had difficulty in giving birth—even after hours of protracted labor, her child would not emerge from the womb. Unless something could be done, the result might be the death of the mother in labor; this is in fact what happened to Jacob’s wife Rachel (Gen. 35:17-19). In some cases, killing the child inside the womb might save the mother’s life—but was that lawful? According to interpretation #1 (the interpretation reflected in the Septuagint), the answer would appear to be no, since the fetus was usually “fully formed” at the time of labor; according to interpretation #2 (reflected in the Vulgate), yes, since even a fully formed fetus was still a “limb of the mother” until its head emerged.
The same basic disagreement over the status of a fetus carried over into other matters. The Dead Sea Scrolls community, which followed interpretation #1 above, outlawed killing a pregnant animal for a sacrifice, since that would violate another biblical law that forbade offering a “bull or a sheep along with its offspring in a single day” (Lev. 22:28). Since interpretation #1 held that a cow and the calf in its womb were (or could be) two separate animals, the Dead Sea Scrolls said that slaughtering the mother would thus violate this law. Followers of interpretation #2 said, “No such thing!” So long as the calf is in its mother’s womb, they are a single animal. By the same token, interpretation #1 would consider the mother of a stillborn child to have been in a state of ritual impurity sometime before the child’s birth, since she was “touching” a dead human’s body (an act that normally imparts impurity); according to interpretation #2, she was not impure in the slightest, since the dead fetus was a “limb of the mother” and no separate human being.
Gone. All last week. Returned back to the desert over the weekend.
My new Kindle went kaput (shortly after arrival), I almost got bit by a shark (well, a baby shark, flopping about, loose aboard deck), and US Airways did their best the put the kibosh on what was a fantastic vacation, wonderful family meetup, and most relaxing beach experience.
Usually, on such occasions, I publish a notification here that I’ve “gone fishing”, and raise the “light posting” flag, but since I had a full Tumblr queue, decided to completely delegate posting to the Tumblr queue automatic publish feature. And it worked admirably, not missing a beat. I did have internet access at the hotel, but for the first time in years I was without the access of a computer (I brought only iPad and Kindle along) and am leery of unsecured open WiFi (Tumblr overlords, it would be nice if you offered HTTPS support like Facebook and Twitter do) so my Tumblr experience was relegated to browse only mode.
Soon, I shall address the full message queue (most of which existed even before I departed on this trip) and post some responses to reader submitted queries (or comments). God willing :-9
I watched the movie, “The Bucket List”. So I thought before I kick the bucket I should come up with my own personal phucket list. Here’s mine:
- Waiting for the good opinion of others. Phucket!
- Yearning for a quorum of affirmative support. Phucket!
- Excusing the obnoxious and unkind because they are Christians. Phucket!
- Hiding my true colors. Phucket!
- Pining for the endorsement and applause of the authorities. Phucket!
- Pleasing everybody and offending no one. Phucket!
- Mincing words. Phucket!
- Subsidizing the “Christian Cheap” in myself and others. Phucket!
- Waiting for minds to change before I proceed in my search for truth. Phucket!
- Fearing the reactions of those who encounter me. Phucket!
While I did not see The Bucket List, I will still clang in with a quick list:
- Caring about what other people think.
- Fretting over taking of personal stances that may conflict with professional position and status.
- Being bashful about scholarly pursuits, reading, and nerdy quest for increased knowledge and wisdom in economics math, philosophy, psychology, science, theology, or any other field of study.
- Giving in to selfish pleasure in lieu of serving others.
- Opting for silence instead of calling out for justice.
- Aggressively attacking ideological foes from outside in, as opposed to captivating, cultivating, inculcating metanoia in an upside-down,”left-handed”, inside-out mode.
- Second guessing myself for doing the right thing.
- The urge to “dumb down” things, rather than to elevate the consciousness of the audience.
- Worrying about how silly beginner strides appear when launching into new disciplines, engaging in new endeavors and entering into new practices.
- Waiting for approval before I begin.
What’s on your phucket list?
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