(NOTE: This is an expansion and detailing of an earlier article. Enjoy.)
PUT ME IN THE CAMP of those who view the Torah as a largely fictional work.
That said, I do tend to think that some of it actually happened. For example, there’s a passage in Genesis which describes Abraham the Patriarch as leading a commando raid on a group of people who kidnapped his nephew, where he is said to have taken 318 men with him. I don’t think anyone would invent such a specific figure; thus, for this (and other reasons) I do believe Abraham existed, and the tribal elders, and Moses (or someone Moses-like), and Joshua, and a few other people scattered here and there through the text.
I also believe the Sinai event happened. But not for the reasons you’d think.
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A SURE TEST OF ANY theology is to ask, “Does God exist before human beings?”
Among other things, the answer can shed light on one’s grasp of science. For if you allow for a God who watched over the dinosaurs, who saw the primordial soup trend toward consciousness on a billion planets, who was delighted by the Big Bang — in short, One who doesn’t need humans to survive and Whom humans can only love fiercely but dimly — you may well be on to something.
WHAT THE HUMANS DIDN’T REALIZE was that, for everyone else in the galaxy, it was largely considered bad form, and even bad luck, to visit planets settled by intelligent apes. (You’d think the quality of their UFO sightings would be a tip-off.)
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GOOGLE RETURNS ABOUT 29,700 HITS for “bantha milk,” AKA “blue milk” — it’s of what Luke Skywalker poured himself a glassful in the original Star Wars
, banthas being those giant horned elephants-in-costumes of the same film. Fans love banthas, and as fans also love snacks many have devised their own recipes for bantha milk. This is (so far as I know) original to me, although with 29,700 people writing about it there’s bound to be some
- 16 oz whole milk
- 1 banana
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1 egg (if the Force is strong with you)
- 1 drop blue food coloring
Put ingredients in blender. Blend at high speed for 1 minute. Pour into white plastic tumbler and serve.
OUR POLITICAL LANDSCAPE MIGHT BE less prickly were our politics not so personal.
ONE THING I MISS ABOUT the pre-21st-century days is the sense of humanity plunging headlong toward some destination.
These days, that collective goal seems hellbound and handbasket-wrapped. But in the days and years leading up to 1/1/2000, the Great Rollover, that sense of heading toward something great and mysterious was sometimes almost palpable. Maybe it’s because we could see a deadline.
Deadlines are wonderful tools for focusing the mind. Without one, I find myself picking listlessly at the keyboard; with one, I have an excuse, however small, to get off the couch. And that’s important. Our planet’s emerging global culture is lacking something without that sense of notional and communal quasi-closure, and I would like to offer a replacement.
In just about 25 years, give or take a month (or, to put it more or less as accurately as I can, in
days:hours:etc.) an asteroid named Apophis will make its second pass at Earth and quite possibly collide with it. That’s about as dead a deadline as you can get, but it’s also a good chunk of time — it’s a quarter-century off, which is sort of good news for us would-be codgers as it obviates the need for Social Security and other obligations; it’s close enough to inspire the imagination, yet far enough to finally develop those %$#@! jetpacks. And it’s a great excuse, however small, to get off the couch.
April 13, 2036. I hope to see you there.
FLYING OVER EARTH IN THE International Space Station? This is what it looks like.
YOU MIGHT THINK WHITE FLAGS mean “Surrender,” but if you’re talking about Aaron Fein‘s “White Flags” art piece — all the world’s flags rendered full-size in white cloth and embroidery — you’d better not say so in a public forum, or I’ll reply:
(T)o me the whiteness connotes a sameness — on one level it doesn’t matter that they’re white so much as monocolor. White is also the simplest color — it reflects the entire spectrum, is purely non-differential, and leaves nothing out. All dyed cloth begins and ends in whiteness. (White is also a popular color for bedsheets, which addresses the artist’s point about the welcoming tent of Abraham: rest and comfort at the end of a journey. A journey that begins in difference but whose end is only reached by One.)
Anyway, just a few thoughts. I am completely gobsmacked by the beauty and simplicity (and perhaps sense of humor) about this project. Thank you Tablet for bringing it to us.
The project — which really must be seen to be appreciated; I doubt photos actually convey the sense and scope — is the topic of a nice write-up at http://www.tabletmag.com/arts-and-culture/77571/white-flags/. The artist’s website is http://www.aaronfein.com/.
THE FIRST BOOK I EVER read about the Internet, in 1994, still gives me a wave of nostalgic novelty when I turn its pages now. The ‘Net was new in the public mind and not well understood back then, which is why books like 1992′s ZATAOTI were popular: it’s a beginner’s guide to all things then-Internet, from email to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
These days, you just Google to find anything. But before Google (and before the World Wide Web) were Usenet and FTP, telnet and Gopher. You sort of had to know your way around in order to find anything. ZATAOTI’s 95 pages helped make the learning curve less steep for millions of people by helping them to think clearly and concisely about this strange new technology.
The composition of this booklet was originally started because the Computer Science department at Widener University was in desperate need of documentation describing the capabilities of this “great new Internet link” we obtained.
It’s since grown into an effort to acquaint the reader with much of what’s currently available over the Internet. Aimed at the novice user, it attempts to remain operating system “neutral”—-little information herein is specific to Unix, VMS, or any other environment. This booklet will, hopefully, be usable by nearly anyone.
DESPITE ITS HELIOSHEATH-BREAKING ACCOMPLISHMENTS, or perhaps because of them, I can’t help but regret, just a little, that there’s no “NCC-1701” decal on Voyager 1.
But at least there’s Beethoven. That almost makes up for it.
SO NASA HAS JUST RELEASED a nifty web application that lets you whiz about the solar system in real time and swoop in next to planets and satellites and space probes to see what they’re doing (or at least what the programmers know that the scientists know that they’re doing). It’s called, appropriately, “Eyes On The Solar System” and if you don’t click on http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/eyes/ RIGHT NOW and try it boy will YOU be sorry. (Between this, Google Earth and Minecraft, the inner and outer worlds should mesh any day now.)
IF SEDIMENTARY ROCK LAYERS ARE like pages of a book, archaeology is the art and science of compiling an index and table of contents.