Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Best Geeky Costumes 2012

In honor of Halloween, a little gallery of people who really went out of their way to be geeky this year…

Which is your favorite costume? Sound off below!


I have recently lapsed into a series of non-geeky posts (though very fun), which have caused me to not notice THIS:

Phase Two begins. For reals, folks.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Some Thoughts On Feminism…

This from my last DBQ follow-up…
I chose to read the link on Judith Sargent Murray, a radical feminist of the 18th century. The article mentions some of Murray's at-the-time radical ideas, which are now more or less taken for granted, mostly having to do with the psychological and mental equality between men and women. She was an advocate of equal education, and of the breaking down of unjust cultural restrictions. 
Feminism is always a touchy subject, one which has seen a great amount of evolution in the last few hundred years of history. I think the best way the argument for feminism can be put forward is as, not one of radical subversions of social constructions, but one of common sense. Take this quote from the article as an example: "many people also held the belief that women were incapable of logic and that mental exercise harmed their physical ability to bear children". Here, male society is literally treating women as a subspecies. This may be the work of the corruption of ancient gender roles, but primarily it is caused by a lack of common sense. When all can realize that women and men were created equal, it seems, then sense will be restored to civilization. 
But that's where the difficulty comes in. As I've said before, we humans don't like to settle for any less than the extremes. And the extreme of feminism, as well as many other doctrines, has been playing out in modern history with disturbing results. You see, people often mistake equal for the same. But as any child could tell you, men and women are far from the same. In fact, it is our very differences that make us the most of who we are. Equality without difference is like…well, it's like nothing at all. Imagine a world full of seven billion clones of the same person…sure they're equal, but they've lost any reason to want to be equal. No difference, no need. What I'm trying to say is that, the search for equality isn't about trying to erase all differences, but about seeking the liberty to effectively incorporate your differences into the organism that is the human race. Another example: imagine your hands and feet needing to work together as equals–if they didn't, your body would be uncoordinated and ineffective. But imagine if your hands and feet were to erase their differences–you'd have to walk on a pair hands, or hold a glass with a pair of feet. 
One more point I would like to make is about the concluding quote of the article: "grant that their minds are by nature equal, yet who shall wonder at the apparent superiority, if indeed custom becomes second nature." I had never stopped to think about where the term "second nature" comes from, but now it makes sense–something repeated enough that it seems the natural thing to do; an environmental adaption masquerading as a second set of genes. This seems to be what history has led us to…the belief that, if repeated enough times, anything is natural. Men two hundred years ago used this belief against women, and had been using it for centuries before… But have things changed so much? In a culture where a third of the population is murdered before it sees the light of day, can we say we have accepted the natural order of things? Throughout history we always seem to find a way to mess with our identities, as well as those of our fellow humans…we need to watch out what we make second nature.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Psychology and Mad Science

Wow, my psych book is provoking all kinds of thought tonight… Just some quick things it says about evolution and the Big Bang that might interest…

First, the awesome St. Augustine says: 

“The universe was brought into being in a less than fully formed state, but was gifted with the capacity to transform itself from unformed matter into a truly marvelous array of structures and life forms.” 
Augustine understands that, just because nature seems to be developing itself, it doesn't mean the whole organism of the universe wasn't originated by, nor isn't carefully watched and controlled by a Divine power.

And now, a bit about the Big Bang: 

"Meanwhile, many people of science are awestruck at the emerging understanding of the universe and the human creature. It boggles the mind—the entire universe popping out of a point some 14 billion years ago, and instantly inflating to cosmological size. Had the energy of this Big Bang been the tiniest bit less, the universe would have collapsed back on itself. Had it been the tiniest bit more, the result would have been a soup too thin to support life. Astronomer Sir Martin Rees has described Just Six Numbers (1999), any one of which, if changed ever so slightly, would produce a cosmos in which life could not exist. Had gravity been a tad bit stronger or weaker, or had the weight of a carbon proton been a wee bit different, our universe just wouldn’t have worked. What caused this almost-too-good-to-be-true, finely tuned universe? Why is there something rather than nothing? How did it come to be, in the words of Harvard-Smithsonian astrophysicist Owen Gingerich (1999), “so extraordinarily right, that it seemed the universe had been expressly designed to produce intelligent, sentient beings”? Is there a benevolent superintelligence behind it all? Have there instead been an infinite number of universes born and we just happen to be the lucky inhabitants of one that, by chance, was exquisitely fine-tuned to give birth to us? Or does that idea violate Occam’s razor, the principle that we should prefer the simplest of competing explanations? On such matters, a humble, awed, scientific silence is appropriate, suggested philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” 
This makes two important points, I believe. First, that the Big Bang is quite compatible with Divinity, in fact, if anything, confirms it. Second, that science cannot ever completely explain God, or us for that matter. This is because God created science, and is not subject to it. The mysteries of the universe are just that–mysteries. Much of the trouble in the world comes when people think they can understand the mysteries, change the laws, manipulate Truth to accommodate for their own ideas. I hope we stop using science for evil–"mad" science, I guess you could call it–and use it for what it was meant to be–a beautiful design that points us to the infinite wisdom, and the perfect creative mastery of God.

Maybe more on this later…for now, I bid you goodnight, for real now. God bless!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Just a Note…

…I have NO idea what's happening to that poll…some of the answers seem to have been erased…maybe the awesomeness of Mark Shea was too much for it…anyway, I may take it down, or if people start using it, I can just leave it…

A Huge Thank You to Mark Shea…

…for his very kind plug over at Catholic and Enjoying It! This really means a lot to me!

You also may notice a lovely drawing of and by yours truly to the right >>>

I made this my favicon, but it somehow isn't showing as such…does anyone else see it? Anyway, I know the narcissism involved in having your face be your icon…so luckily, I managed to make myself look pretty ridiculous XP

God bless you all!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Response to "Who Are We?: Catholic Faith in Light of the HHS Mandate"

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote another religion-related essay for my online AP US History class…the assignment was to respond to a history-related news article, and I chose a Crisis Magazine article written by Pete Jermann (link found in text). God bless you all in the great war for souls…
This year, Catholics in America were challenged. The HHS mandate, instructing Catholic organizations to provide their workers with healthcare, including contraception, sterilization, and abortion, threw religious freedom back in the face of the faithful Catholic populace, whose religious beliefs condemn these practices as grave violations of human life and love. To see how Catholics have responded to the HHS mandate, check out these political cartoons. 
"Who Are We?: Catholic Faith in Light of the HHS Mandate" asks us to ask ourselves the reason for this outrageous offense, which really represents something much bigger: a cultural gravitation away from God. In asking us to do this, Pete Jermann, Crisis Magazine writer, takes us back to an unlikely place: The Old Testament.  
We may sometimes see the God of the Old Testament as some kind of angry and distracted monarch who stumbles onto the scene occasionally, smiting a sinner or two, and leaving with cryptic verses about blessings and curses. What is up with this God, who never seems to get along with "His" people, and always seems to be tossing out arbitrary "rules" that no one seems to follow? In Christian theology, Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, the "mediator" who makes sense of what seems to be a mess. This is the reason why most people have an emotional attachment to the New Testament, much more than to the Old. So what of the Old Testament? Though God's rules may have appeared arbitrary, what we have to realize is that, even in the Old Testament, God is love, and as the article states, love is never arbitrary. 
What does this have to do with the HHS mandate, and America today? This is explained in the second half of the article. In 1968, Pope Paul VI wrote Humanae Vitae, the well renowned encyclical letter that challenged birth control (if you want to go for it, you can read it here). Poor Paul VI. I think it's telling that in Star Wars and the History of Vatican II (another excellent and hilarious read, for anyone interested in modern Church history and/or Star Wars), Paul VI is analogized with Obi-Wan Kenobi, the brilliant Jedi master who was left in charge of a rebellious youth after his own master's death; whose young charge was turned to the Dark Side right under his nose. Likewise, Paul VI was left with the responsibility of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) from his predecessor Blessed John XXIII; and who obliviously let it become corrupted in the hands of a rebellious world (important note: this is not to say that the council itself was in any way corrupted, the corruption lay in what the people did with it). His Humanae Vitae was greeted with much the same air of mockery, confusion, and disinterest by many (a November 1968 Time Magazine cover featuring the past Holy Father can be seen here). Many regarded him as simply an angry old man, making up arbitrary rules…sound familiar? 
Besides explaining why this view is simply nonsense, both as it applies to the God of the Old Testament, and to the beliefs upheld by the Catholic Church today, the Crisis article asks us if we should really be surprised. It particularly drives home the point of trust. We, as Catholics…no, heh, I guess I'd like to take back my opening statement (you weren't going to let me get away with it were you?). Because contraception, sterilization, and abortion aren't just "Catholic Crimes". They're crimes against human life and human sexuality, against ALL of us, whether we want to admit it or not, and thus mandates such as this recent one should shock ALL of us. But they don't. They're convenient. 
So let me rephrase my statement. We, as human beings in America have not trusted our God. This is the connection the article wants us to make: like the Hebrews in the desert, like the confused disciples who left Christ over his Bread of Life discourse, like the Confederate Civil War soldiers who thought they needed slavery to survive, we cling to our own shallow desires, for fear that God won't be enough to satisfy…a strange kind of insanity called Original Sin. 
Saints and sinners, virtues and vices, have shaped our country. At the moment our country is under attack like never before. An attack that has been going on, in some form, throughout our history, whether in the tyranny of England, or the tyranny of slaveholders. But now it's attacking the building block of society: the family. Separating making life from making love, recreating our bodies so they are incapable of making life, and finally ripping life from the womb of it's mother, butchering it, and using what's left (alive or dead, mind you) for "scientific" research. This is the battle. This is the battle that will be recorded in American history books, as the great battle against our most bloodthirsty enemy: the Culture of Death. This is not just a battle of religion, but a battle of and for humans…no, humanity itself.  
History is being made every day. How will you change it?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012