Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Beware of the Commodore 64


Jewish date: 2 Tammuz 5769.

Today’s holidays: Birth of John the Baptist, Feast of the Lesser Mysteries.

Worthy causes of the day:  “Iran: Stop the Crackdown” and “Send a United Message to Siemens and Nokia”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. More lack of freedom of religion: “China's 10-year campaign to crush Falun Gong drives movement underground”, “Virulent new strain of anti-Semitism rife in UK, says Chief Rabbi”, and “Burmese jailed for Suu Kyi prayer”.
  2. “Warren prayer booth under fire”:  A Church of God congregation has erected a “prayer booth” in city hall in Warren, Michigan.  Putting aside the question of what anyone needs a “prayer booth” for—I pray multiple times a day, and I have never needed one—there is an obvious question of separation of church and state here.  However, what really drew my attention is this paragraph:

    "This is ridiculous. Prayer should be private," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Wisconsin-based nonprofit [The Freedom from Religion Foundation]. "A government is supposed to be neutral when it comes to religion."
    Boldfacing for emphasis is my doing.  Since when was prayer something done only in private?  Many (if not most) religions hold services in which people gather together to pray.  In some religions, such as Islam, people will even pray out in the streets.  Why should anyone expect others not to pray simply because there are other people around?
  3. “Night patrols by street pastors”:  Interesting tactic.
  4. The Church of Scientology is in trouble again, this time for physical abuse of staff:  “FLORIDA: Sect accused of violence”.
  5. Yes, I am tardy again in reviewing the latest episode of Kings, “The Sabbath Queen”.  The moral reasoning of various characters in this episode is severely wanting.  Cross causes a blackout because his son is not invited to a party, and Michelle, David, and Jack take advantage of the blackout to behave as they would not otherwise, as if no one can see their sins in the dark.  What Michelle and David do is likely to come back and haunt them in a future episode.  More interesting is the backstory revealed during the blackout.  A few years previously, Michelle was deathly ill, and with no medical intervention left to try, Silas was determined to keep her alive by keeping her spirits up.  (This is not rational, but it is human.)  To this end he read to her from one of her favorite childhood books, Harlow, Seven Dumplings, and the Sabbath Queen.  (If this is a real book, it is rare enough not to be even mentioned on  It is the story of a small girl, Harlow, who falls into the hands of the beautiful, yet evil Sabbath Queen, who refuses to let her go home.  (Which gives me wonder what the writers were thinking, considering that the Sabbath Queen is just a personification of the Sabbath in Jewish metaphor and in Qabbalah the Sefirah of Malkhuth and cannot be considered evil.)  Silas artificially draws out the story for days.  Finally Silas (perhaps in a hallucination) meets Death and strikes a deal with her “signed” in blood:  in exchange for Michelle’s life, he has to give up his kingdom once a better man for the job of king comes along.  This is frankly the most unusual variant on the Faust legend I am aware of.  But Silas is not alone:  Michelle, too, makes a deal.  She promises God that she will dedicate her life to serving Him if He lets her live.  Hence her determination not to marry anyone.  So at the end of the episode we are left wondering which of the two deals really saved Michelle’s life and which is valid.  We are also left wondering what the real requirements of the deals really are.  How is Silas to know who the better man for the job of king really is?  And is eternal spinsterhood really something Michelle needs to serve God.  (David does not think so.)  We are left with a moral cliffhanger, and I am very curious how it will be resolved.
Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing is “The Commodore 64 vs. the iPhone 3G S: The Ultimate Showdown”.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.

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