Monthly Archives: September 2012

Every Pastor That Has Whined About Gay Marriage Should Read This

From an over two year old post at The Futurist, emphasis mine:

Lastly, the religious ‘social conservatives’ who continue their empty sermonizing about the ‘sanctity of marriage’ while doing absolutely nothing about the divorce-incentivizing turn that the laws have taken, have been exposed for their pseudo-moral posturing and willful blindness. What they claim to be of utmost importance to them has been destroyed right under their noses, and they still are too dimwitted to comprehend why. No other interest group in America has been such a total failure at their own stated mission. To be duped into believing that a side-issue like ‘gay marriage’ is a mortal threat to traditional marriage, yet miss the legal changes that correlate to a rise in divorce rates by creating incentives for divorce (divorce being what destroys marriage, rather than a tiny number of gays), is about as egregious an oversight as an astronomer failing to be aware of the existence of the Moon. Aren’t conservatives the people who are supposed to grasp that incentives drive behavior? An article worthy of being written by The Onion could conceivably be titled ‘Social conservatives carefully seek to maintain perfect 100% record of failure in advancing their agenda’.

I have three ideas on why this is so in Western churches. One is that the majority of people in American churches are women, and pastors risk shepherding away the bulk of their congregation from an institution (the divorce racket institution) that overwhelmingly benefits them. The flip side of that, the second idea, is that—I’m going out on a limb here—there’s scant few gay people in these congregations, so pastors can blast away at will on the gay folks without risking social or economic capital.

The third reason is that the church, which for centuries bristled intensely against divorce, found herself unfashionably railing against what was becoming increasingly fashionable…this, after a few decades of intense socialization through media and education starting mid-20th century. Again, the risk of losing numbers, but this time both genders on Sunday morning.

Those of you who aren’t red pill-averse would do good to read that post a few times and take a week or so to process it. Even if you disagree with some of it, it could spark some uncomfortable revelations.

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How To Make Your Own Shaving Soap For El Cheapo

You can do searches for how to make your own shaving soap, more from scratch that what I did here. It’s basically soap with some other ingredients added. If you buy all of that stuff and go jump through the hoops, like here, it may come out more cheaply but it’s more time consuming and there’s more room for error.

Here’s what I used.

3 bars glycerin soap
1 tbsp coconut oil
a few drops peppermint oil
  1. Cut the soap up. Might not be necessary but it makes melting faster and it kind of makes it look like candy.
  2. Nuke the soap pieces in a microwave-safe container (duh). It took about 90 seconds to melt all of this. Now the candy looks like Jello!
  3. Nuke the tbsp of coconut oil—maybe 30 seconds.
  4. Add the melted coconut oil and the drops of peppermint oil to the soap, mix, then pour into your mug.
  5. Let soap sit overnight. It might take less time if your house/weather is dry.

As you can see from the blurry photo, the soap I bought was was all glycerin, so it doesn’t lather up like you’d expect with normal soap. But in the long run that’s better for you since soap with sulfates (sulfates make the lather) tends to dry skin out.

You might also want to add a dab of coconut oil to the top of the soap when you actually shave. I don’t know how well the oil was blended in when I made the soap so I dropped some on top before swishing the brush. The soap might work well by itself but to make sure you have enough lubrication the coconut oil works well. I would swish with warm to hot water when you do that since the oil needs to melt (76 degree Fahrenheit is the melting point) to mix better (presumably).

The peppermint oil is needed only for the smell. If your skin is super-sensitive you might want to skip this or substitute it.

Obviously, the soap was $1 each but you could find them cheaper somewhere. The coconut and peppermint oils are a tad pricey but they will last a long time, even if you use them for other things besides the soap-making.

Besides cost, the other benefit is that you tend to not overuse it if the soap is constantly all right there in your mug. I have a ~12oz Colonel Conk mug and the melted bars were the perfect fit. If you use cream from a tube (I use Proraso/C.O. Bigelow) or from a can, it’s easy to make too much or overuse.

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A Quick Thought on Non-Aristotelian Epistemology

Flowin’ straight from the survival scrolls.

I’ve mentioned a few times on here, and in a roundabout way in the review of Alvin Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief, about non-Aristotelian epistemology. This is sometimes called Middle Eastern (ME) or Hebraic epistemology. ME epistemology utilizes divine revelation as a legitimate, basic form of knowledge, the same way we accept sense perception or memory or logic, etc., as presupposed methods of knowing things.

Plantinga, armed with some Aquinas and Calvin ordinance, called the working apparatus that utilizes this epistemology the sensus divinatus; our “sense of the divine”. I’m not aware of how much Plantinga knew of ME epistemology but from what I know of his ideas and the ME method, he seems to describe some version of it. If you are a Christian or any kind of religious person you accept the ME method of knowing things of the supernatural even if you don’t name it as such.

The other side of that coin is that, if someone makes any statement at all concerning the metaphysical realm, he uses the ME epistemological method to induce this. In other words, a definitive statement about metaphysical things is intrinsically a-rational, because it does not involve the Aristotelian faculties. This includes claims of atheists, who have the tendency, de rigueur, to claim religious belief as irrational. All of the philosophical dodges involving withheld judgments of God’s existence until “scientific proof” is presented are incoherent because science is unable to measure anything metaphysical. Those who maintain a “scientific, rational” mind while at the same time insist on God’s nonexistence are using non-scientific, non-rational methods to conclude it.

It’s easy if we think of ME epistemology as a sense, like sight. There are people who look and see a tree outside of the window and maybe determine some of its qualities, and there are people who look and see no tree. Both are using their eyes, even if the latter claim that eyes do not exist in the first place and that trees do not exist because they conclude that trees must be, say, felt in order to really exist.

Looking at it this way, the only ones who can legitimately claim non-use of the ME method are strong agnostics (“No one has eyes to see this concept of the tree, so we cannot say whether or not they exist.”), and possibly weak ones (“I don’t know if we have eyes or not, but if we do we may be able to figure out if tree exist.”). If one claims Aristotelian epistemological methods are the only valid ones, then a statement about the supernatural cannot be made. Such a statement would be considered incoherent. There are no eyes to determine if the tree is not there.

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Book Review: Can Man Live Without God

No, seriously. Where’s the question mark?

Ravi Zacharias’ Can Man Live Without God explores the moral and material, not spiritual, consequences of atheism, particularly on a cultural scale. I think Zacharias intends to explain that atheism (he terms it “antitheism”), flowering to its logical consequences, intrinsically leads to philosophical and existential despair. The book’s audience seems to be people of various belief systems, not just Christians, but whether or not the arguments can be acceptable to non-Christians depends on the “due process” of the individual skeptic’s intellect.

I first heard, and heard of, Zacharias on a Christian-oriented AM radio station in Connecticut. I appreciated his broadcast, which were really recorded speeches, because he was an academic lecturer and not a pastor or preacher. The western church in general has an abysmal record for placing effective people in academia, and it was a relief to hear Zacharias, with his Indian lilt and persuasive cadence, on a Christian station where the norm is having an radio-vangelist bore to tears anyone under the age of 70 with droning JAYSUS talk.

The bulk of the book has Zacharias explaining how atheism will lead to existential despair, and how theism—Christianity in particular—can provide the meaning that searching souls are looking for. In a broader, more cultural and political sense I think this is accurate: when the metaphysical foundations for morality are done away with, a la Nietzsche, man as a heroic being has to recreate and affirm morality. This was kind of Nietzsche’s prediction and warning to those that have found God “dead”. Unfortunately, the desire to recreate intrinsic moral laws is a delightful prospect for politicians (usually despots) as a way to expand the state to obscene, lethal proportions at the expense of the individual.

It seems that Zacharias believes that the despair of atheists is inevitable. In fact, he spends a chapter or so on the loss of meaning in the atheist’s life and later attempts to remedy that with a metaphysical solution. But I don’t think it’s necessarily true on an individual level. It’s not that complicated, really: the theist finds meaning in life through divine revelation and it stretches beyond the material universe. The atheist finds meaning in life through material epistemologies and intellectual apprehension, and it doesn’t go beyond physical death*. The new Christian can experience similar despair when he abandons a former belief system and enters into the Christian one, however short-lived it may be.

If it sounds like I’m just badmouthing the book, I don’t intend to. There’s lots of little pulses of information and arguments to to be found scattered around the whole book, wrapped in Zacharias’ endearing expository prose. The most informative section, for me, was Zacharias’ sectioned summary of intellectual skepticism through mini-biographies of philosophers past, from Descartes up to Sartre and Russell. He did a great job of summarizing the scope of skepticism of belief in absolute morality and demonstrating the weaknesses in each thinker’s philosophy (he thankfully didn’t hold back on the theistic philosophers, either). Because some of the book presupposes theism to be true in order to accept some of the arguments, this section is more objective and can hold the most value for any reader.

*It’s important to remember that there are different kinds of atheism that allow for a supernatural reality or a type of god. Buddhism is technically atheist because it does not posit a God, but asserts some kind of metaphysical reality. Additionally, there can be some atheists who believe in some sort of god, though it has to be wholly material (Zacharias, at some points, seems to annoyingly conflate atheism with materialism).

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Stop Trying to be Famous


I’d make fun of the outdated cell phone but mine is much older.

While having nighttime coffee with a traveling friend earlier this week, in the midst of our conversation we thought of the futility of fame. We all want to become famous for different reasons or for different things, but that goal is mostly out of our hands. Mass fame is the result of chance circumstances—i.e., the whims of the market—all of which are out of our control’s reach.

There’s a number of bands I’ve listened to, and still do, that ended up with woefully stunted careers though their music hit all the right buttons. In every sense they did everything “correct” but ended up nowhere, leaving behind a truncated discography that only a handful will hear of and enjoy. In the anarchy of music preferences there’s no telling who the winners will be and who won’t.

Despite what was propagandized by punk rock for decades, the music industry is hardly centralized, even in the major label heydays. Those evil corporate suits had no control over what sold and what didn’t. For every two or three artists that had a hit single and went on to recoup the cost of production, there were 40 or 50 that the label lost money on. If they had so much decision-making power, why did they constantly lose money?

Our best bet is find a niche and drill into it. You can copycat everyone and maybe see some returns on it from a generally wide audience. But it’s easier, relatively speaking, to be one of the “go to” producers of art for a subculture of people, while being ignored or scoffed at by the rest of the world.

These kinds of success stories are littered everywhere, especially in the world of art, and we are all familiar with some of them. But we can’t claim omniscience of all the great artists all of the time, and that’s the point. The artists that tend to make the greatest impact are the ones that only some of us notice.

Photo by robertbanh.

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I’m Not a Foodie Food Review: Paleo Bread Coconut

Paleo Bread Coconut

Made from real paleontologists.

Paleo Bread is new from Julian Bakery, and I bought a loaf and had it shipped. Nothing earth-shattering there. I’m not too huge on eating bread or grain-based food in general (for some good reasons), so I thought trying this stuff out would be a fun experiment.
Paleo Bread Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese. Who else sees a chariot riding under the moonlight in the toast pattern?

The first thing you notice is that the loaf is a little smaller than a normal bread loaf, but heavier. The first ingredient is water, and it is high in fiber, so that’s probably why. After putting it in the freezer there’s a lot of ice that crusts around it, though it doesn’t seem to affect the texture or taste.
Paleo Bread French Toast

French toast and Co. Made with real Frenchmen (sorry).

The bread itself is not crumbly or weak at all, which is one thing I would’ve expected. It’s just the opposite: it’s tougher and chewier than normal bread. It’s little bit of a workout to eat it. Not necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re looking for something light and fluffy, you’re out of luck.
Paleo Bread Egg Sandwich

Egg Sandwich. Made with real sa–ugh.

If you’re wondering: it doesn’t taste like coconut, nor does it taste like bread really. There is some apple cider vinegar in there that is probably what’s giving it the flavor of…something (it doesn’t taste like apple cider, either). It’s decent eating it by itself, but probably best prepared as normal bread is.

Bottom line: excellent bread substitute if you have gluten or flour allergies, or if you’re a primal/paleo dieter and miss the sandwich aesthetic (I don’t think it’s 100% primal/paleo but it’s extremely close). It’s not anything I’d punch an endangered whale for but I’ll eat it if I have it.

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How to Die Properly

In turn of the century letter-writing—I can’t exactly point to where—I have read on “dying a good death”. In a general sense this means dying under favorable circumstances, and most of us would take the phrase to mean favorable material circumstances: living to a prosperous old age, free of disease or dysfunction, in the company of friends and family.

The Christianized version of this good death is not so much of an easy determination. The material world can often parallel the metaphysical, but not always. If the premature-seeming, violent deaths of God’s handpicked in scripture don’t come to mind, you may be reminded of Wormwood’s Patient in The Screwtape Letters. The Patient was killed during “the war,” yet he had stored up enough of his life under God’s graces to be considered a healthy death. Sometimes He allows men to live to their natural ends, others He would cut short. But again, those durations are evaluations based on a frame of reference calibrated to our human eyes, not our metaphysical senses.

This idea of filling up a storehouse with the work of the proper Christian life in this world is scattered throughout scripture in different ways, and it can be best thought of as a field that produces crops. The Christian is a field that allowed itself to be farmed—because this field, left to itself, would not accomplish much in the farmer’s eyes, but a field intentionally cultivated produces food for humans in countless ways of which the farmer only knows about. The field is privy to a kind of narrative of the food, but in its finiteness it can only apprehend fragments of it.

What other fields perceive is a mixed bag (here the analogy starts to come apart, I think): they either see an even smaller picture of what the field produces, or if they are insiders to the dying’s life they may see even more ways in which the produce has fed others. Consider how an author’s readers enjoy his works in different ways than the author does, or can. Completing a novel brings a manner of satisfaction to the author, while the readers, after reading it, derive a different satisfaction. The source is the same but the experience of pleasure is much different.

It’s not a stretch of ability for the dying to understand the basic idea of what he has done, but privileged insight into his works, enjoyed by those who know him, is one of the greatest blessings. It’s a curtain-peek at the a great swath of the scope of another life, seeing infested with the glow of divine fingerprints.

Photo by Rockin Robin.

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