A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Saturday at the Cinema: Who Is the Beast of Revelation 13?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction: Capuchins Make Monkeys Out of Archaeologists

Monkey 'tools' raise questions over human archaeological record: Capuchin monkeys in Brazil unintentionally produce rock fragments that resemble ancient stone tools.

Ewen Callaway
19 October 2016

In January, archaeologist Tomos Proffitt was examining a set of stone artefacts brought to him by his colleague Michael Haslam. Some of the quartz pieces looked like sharpened stone tools made by human relatives in eastern Africa, some 2–3 million years ago.

But Haslam told Proffitt that the artefacts had been made in the previous two years by capuchin monkeys in Brazil. "I was pretty gobsmacked," Proffitt says. "I did my PhD looking at hominin stone tools. I've learnt how to make these things. I was looking at this material, and it looked like it had been made by humans."

A team led by Proffitt and Haslam, both at the University of Oxford, UK, now describes the artefacts in a paper published in Nature on 19 October1.

The capuchins make the fragments unintentionally while bashing rocks into dust, the researchers find. Some scientists say that the results call into question whether some stone tools have been incorrectly attributed to hominins-- including 3.3-million-year-old artefacts from Kenya that are the oldest on record.

"This is a landmark paper," says Susana Carvalho, a primate archaeologist also at Oxford. "These capuchins are, in fact, producing without intention something that has to be labelled as a stone tool."

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Nitty Gritty of the Saintly Life

Some personal ponderments as we approach All Saints Day:

Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker, a movement committed to providing a place for the homeless to sleep, to feeding the hungry, and to ending war, when told some were planning a campaign to have her made a saint is said to have responded, "You are not going to get rid of me that easily." Day's response, a quite understandable response, reflects the widespread assumption that saints are very, very holy people. That they are very, very, holy people suggests, moreover, that saints rise above all conflict and controversy. (Stanley Hauerwas, Without Apology: Sermon's for Christ's Church, p. 23.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Apologists #7 (Heresy, Part 2)

Gnosticism, Part 2

Since Gnostics believed that the physical world was evil, they had to explain its origins. They believed that, originally all reality was spiritual. The supreme being had no intention of creating the physical world. He created a spiritual one in which several beings were created. These spiritual beings were called "eons." One of the eons fell into error and created the material world Fortunately, since the material world was created by a spiritual being, it still contained "sparks" of the spiritual world. These sparks had been imprisoned in human bodies and needed to be liberated through knowledge. In order to gain this knowledge, a spiritual messenger needed to come and awaken the human person from "sleep." For Christian Gnostics, it was Christ who brought that knowledge. Christ had come to earth to remind humanity of its spiritual origins and given it the secret knowledge necessary.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Scripture, Constitution, and Even Art... On Why There's No Such Thing as an Objective Reading of Anything

I love the Cleveland Museum of Art. If you love art museums and find yourself in Cleveland, Ohio you need to put its art museum on your itinerary. It is one of the best art museums in the country and, except for special exhibits, it is always free.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Confession Competition: A Lectionary Reflection on Luke 18:9-14

Luke 18:9-14

Devout Jews prayed three times daily-- at 9:00 a.m., 12 noon, and 3:00 p.m. Some believed that prayers offered at the Temple were more efficacious. So, it is not surprising to see a Pharisee and a tax collector at the Temple to offer their prayers.

But the Pharisee really does not offer a prayer to God as much as a personal testimonial of his own righteousness. Of course, the Pharisee is righteous. Everything he says about himself is true. The Pharisee is a good man. He is the kind of person anyone would want for a next door neighbor. If we cast all the Pharisees as unrighteous hypocrites, we will miss the punch of this parable. The Pharisee is righteous. The problem, as Luke tells us, is his trust in that righteousness as somehow significant in his standing before God.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Scriptures and Prayer for the Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost

Old Testament: Jeremiah 31:27-34 or Genesis 32:22-31

Psalter: Psalm 119:97-104 or Psalm 121

Epistle: 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

Gospel: Luke 18:1-8
Holy One, we lift our eyes to you in hope and awe. Grant that we may reject all apathy of spirit, all impatience and anxiety, so that, with the persistence of the widow, we may lift our voice again and again to seek your justice. Amen.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction: The Sound of Money

UK's new 5 pound note has second use: It plays vinyl records

From Associated Press
October 12, 2016 10:01 AM EST

LONDON (AP) — The value of the British pound sterling may have been dropping in recent weeks but imaginative Brits have found a way to put cash to work: It turns out the new plastic five-pound-note can be used as a stylus to play vinyl records.

A number of YouTube videos have been posted in recent days showing the new note "playing" music on a turntable, though it must be said the fidelity does not match sound produced by expensive equipment.

The plastic note is illustrated with images of Queen Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill. It was introduced last month to generally favorable reviews.

The note is worth just over $6 at Wednesday's rate. The pound has been dropping largely because of concerns about Britain leaving the European Union.