Monday, January 4, 2010

To the Bible burners and Miles...

I learned this morning that my friend Miles got in a fight on New Years with some people who were burning Bibles. My first thought was "Go Miles!" and my second was "What kind of idiots would want to burn Bibles?"

To the Bible burners:
I know you think you're a bunch of bad-asses for making a public display of your disdain for the dominant religion of your area, and I understand where you're coming from. You're tired of being the minority. You think that people are blind and ignorant who take every word of the Bible as literal and true. I understand. I do.

But even if you don't take the Bible as all literal truth, heck even if you don't agree with any of the rules written in it, if you don't think the miracles could have happened, if you don't think the text was inspired by God, you can't deny that it was INSPIRED. The Bible is a compilation of 66 historical documents written from hundred of years before Christ to about 50 AD. These books are still used today as historical documents. Poeple use them to study ancient Middle-Eastern civilization. Many significant historical artifacts that are still being found are considered great finds because of their evidencial significance in reference to the Bible.

So what if you're not a history buff...what about poetry and literature? The Bible is the most quoted book in literary history. It's quoted by great writers from Shakespeare to Dan Brown. The Bible itself contains plenty of poetry--ever look at the Song of Solomon? "How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride/ How much more pleasing is your love than wine, /and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice./ Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride;/ milk and honey are under your tongue." Prude? No. Poetic? Yes.

Are you a language scholar? The Bible allows students of Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Latin to study authentic, original texts. Today, efforts are still being made to translate the Bible into every language of the world--even the isolated dialects of small, hidden tribes of South America and Africa. Many of these minor languages would never have even been discovered and documented if not for missionaries.

You like movies? What would Indiana Jones have been without the Holy Grail to inspire the Last Crusade? What would have been the point of Raiders of the Lost Ark without the Ark? Countless movies make reference to Judas, the prodigal son, Armageddon, angels, demons, Heaven, Hell, God, Satan...I could go on. The fact that I don't even have to describe to you what these things mean in the Bible shows how pervasive Biblical themes our in our modern culture. You can burn the Bible, but you cannot escape it.

Yes it upsets me that you were burning Bibles, but it does not surprise me. Many countries have banned Christianity and the Bible at one point or another incuding China, North Korea, and Afghanistan. Feel free to join their pleasant company. Frankly, I don't think any book can really be considered significant unless it was at one point banned, burned, or buried by a mass if ignorants. So actually, go right ahead. Add to the holiness, significance, and controversy of my Bible. It does more good inspiring my awe and loyalty while burning in a dazzling, holy fire than it does sitting on a shelf and never getting read, or worse, getting handled by you zealots who would misuse it, misquote it, and stain it with your grubby, ignorant fingers.

And now for Tim's argument:
"The dumb thing is, it was a bunch of Atheists who were burning the Bibles. They don't know WHAT they believe!"
Very good point, my dear.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

podcasts are up.  see links on right.  comments welcome.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I meant to do this one as a podcast, but I couldn't get Audacity to work, so the podcasts will have to come later.

Talk about dilatory! How about the Channel Tunnel that runs from England to France under La Manche (the English Channel)? That was a project with quite a few dilatory events.

Concieved in 1802, the Chunnel (for short) wasn't open for business until 1994! Of course in 1802 the dilatory problem was the lack of technology. Horse-drawn carts weren't quite efficient and powerful enough to plow through dirt and stone that had been packed down by the English Channel for a million years or so.

When the technology did come along, both sides of the river were worried about their own national security; after all, the French and the English haven't always been friends. Then when they decided they did want to be friends and make it easy to pay visits to the neighbors, they ran out of dough. A large portion of the construction was funded by private, small-time investors who have never gotten their money back. Finally in 1994, there was a big ceremony attended by the Queen and the Chunnel was open for business. These days, it's easy to take it for granted because if you take the Eurorail, you won't even have any way to know you're under the sea.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Warning: This entry is rated PG.

Biannual makes me think of Victoria's Secret semi-annual sale, which reminds me of Intimissimi in Venice, Italy.

I arrived in Venice with every intention of seeing the history, museums, cathedrals, and general culture of this famous little island, but when I strolled down the narrow pathways between boutiques, I saw a few cafés and many, many modern clothing and accessory shops. That's when I saw it. Glowing with bright, white light and speckled with beautiful little garments--some in rainbow colors, some shiny like silver and gold, all delicate and perfectly detailed--was Intimissimi.

It was the most amazing undergarment store I've ever seen.

Now everyone wears undergarments, so don't misunderstand me. This wasn't just lingerie, no this was everything you would ever want to make your clothes fit better, hide those annoying undie lines, tuck what needs tucked, lift what needs lifted, smooth what needs smoothed, and avoid the pinching, chaffing, and wrinkling of cheap imitations. What was so remarkable is that all of these perfectly functional and some quite sturdy garments were still so pretty!

Of course they had some things that were not quite so functional and sturdy, too. Hey, it's Italy!

I've been waiting for an Intimissimi to open up in Northwest Arkansas ever since, but I won't hold my breath. At least we've got Victoria's Secret biannual sale!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Main Entry: di·aph·a·nous
Pronunciation: \dī-ˈa-fə-nəs\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Medieval Latin diaphanus, from Greek diaphanēs, from diaphainein to show through, from dia- + phainein to show

Date: 1614
1 : characterized by such fineness of texture as to permit seeing through 2 : characterized by extreme delicacy of form : ethereal 3 : insubstantial , vague
— di·aph·a·nous·ly adverb
— di·aph·a·nous·ness noun

I'm applying "diaphanous" to the French controversy about whether or not Muslim girls could wear veils in public schools.

The controversy is no surprise to those who are familiar with French culture and history. France has had their policy of Laïcité (secularism) for a while.

"The founding text of French secularism is the Act of 9 December 1905, which established the separation of the State from religion. For 60 years, the French Constitution has reflected the principle of secularism. The 1958 Constitution reaffirms this principle: 'France shall be an indivisible, secular and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs.' (Article 1)"

So is France respecting 'all beliefs' by forbidding students to wear their diaphanous head garments?

Muslims in France who wished their daughters to cover their heads at school had only a diaphanous hope of succeeding. The French law of secularism dictates that any sign of religious affiliation shall not be expressed at school. Period.

However, if head scarves suddenly became the style and women of all religions started wearing them just to be cool, public policy wouldn't forbid it. Maybe that's the solution! Let Muslim girls wear flowerdy, purple, or metallic head scarves and tie them in funky ways so that Christian, Jewish, and Athiest girls will want to wear them too! They can all be beautifully diaphanous so they'll flow behind their heads as lovely girls of all creeds stylishly float from class to class!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Acedia = apathy or boredom

This will be a pretty biased entry, but that's what blogs are for.

The French and the Americans accuse each other of acedia regarding different things.

The French often are disgusted by Americans' acedia about foreign affairs. We have a reputation of pushing our military weight around when it suits us and ignoring countries that desperately need our help. I was in France in 2003 and I had to explain to many, many people that, no, I didn't think the U.S. should have invaded Iraq, that yes, I did think our president was a pushy moron, and that yah, it probably would have been better to spend all of that military money stopping the tribal genocide in Africa and feeding starving children. I tried my best to show that not all Americans were apathetic about the rest of the world, but my French acquaintances still used me as a focal point for their frustrations toward the West. Their argument was that if Americans could get off their couch-potato bottoms, shed some of their acedia, and challenge the president, then maybe we could enact change. I didn't have an answer for them there.

So how do Americans accuse the French of acedia with all of their strikes, rallies, social unrest, and heated debates? Religion. When I started to look for a church to attend in Pau in 2003, I was surprised at how far I had to walk from my host home to find a protestant church. In NW Arkansas, there's just about one on every corner. I was also surprised at the selection. My options as a Christian were to attend the Catholic church or the one Protestant church. Baptist? Methodist? Pentacostal? According to Pau, France, they are all just Protestant. Once I got inside, I was surprised again to find that the one Protestant church in town was not even full on Sunday mornings, and they only had one service! What, I wondered, could have driven this country, with all of its beautiful cathedrals, hundreds of relics, and a strong history of evangelism, what could have driven them away from their religious heritage? The more I studied history, the more I learned about the religious wars where people murdered one another for minor doctrinal differences, about the Crusades where "Christian knights" killed people in their own countries if they didn't convert, and then about "la laïcité" which forbids public school students to show outward signs of their religion, and in effect, even forbids them to talk or write about their religion in school. In trying to solve one problem, the French went to the other extreme. This page gives more (also biased) specifics: "(A) poll indicated that only 10 percent of the French population attends church regularly and of the 51 percent who call themselves Catholics, only half said they believed in God. Those that don’t believe in God said they called themselves Catholic because it was a family tradition."

We all have acedia about something. When is it good? When is it bad? I welcome your comments.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I took a costume design class a few years back where we had to design fancy 18th century clothing for bourgeois English characters. In England, it was fashionable at this time to follow french style, so I had the opportunity to copy/reinvent some 18th century French costumes. Many of my renderings had gold brocade purfling the skirt hems.

Why did English bourgeois look to the French for fashion inspiration? Throughout history, the nations of Europe were more or less equally stylish until French fashion began to spring ahead of the English during the 17th century when England was understandably preoccupied with mass plagues and fires. This was also the time of the French Sun King Louis XIV whose clothing was lavishly embellished from head to toe. In the photo to the left, you'll note that his collar is purfled with an elaborate gold rope, his hands are purfled with copious lace, and even the velvet rug hanging in the background is purfled with gold brocade and huge tassels.

Early in the 18th century, Louis XV's mistress, Madame Pompidou (below), was quite the trend-setter. She would purfle her neckline with lace and purfle her hems with flowers.

So you see, the French may or may not have been the original purflers, but they certainly perfected the art of purfling!

For more on France's influence on fashion, click here.