July 22, 2017

Blogging More Efficiently

WritingI had an idea that other day about one way I might approach blogging so that it requires less time than I've been devoting to it. Since I know some of you are bloggers or have been bloggers in the past, I thought I'd run it by you and see if you've ever tried it. There's nothing original about it, so I'm guessing some of you have done something similar. For those who have, I'm curious to hear whether you found it helpful.

I'm thinking about giving myself a specific allocation of time (e.g., 10-15 minutes) to write a post. The idea would be that I stop when time expires no matter what. If I'm truly unsatisfied with what I have, I might come back and finish another time; however, the hope would be that I could train myself to finish the post in the allocated time. I would not try to do this with every post because that would prevent me from being able to write some of what I'd like to write. It would be more of a method to utilize when I was feeling especially pushed for time or just wanted to write something fairly brief.

July 20, 2017

An Unholy Alliance

Muslim women in Kuwait City.jpg

When the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) was trying to censor heavy metal music in the 1980s, who empowered them? They were highly influential women, so-called "Washington wives," with the sort of impressive connections that allowed them to weild real power. But it was not like they had the idea to go after metal out of nowhere. At least in part, they were responding to grassroots pressure. And what was the source of this pressure?

Not surprisingly, evangelical fundamentalist Christians were a big part of it. They are the ones most of us remember stirring up much of the drive to go after metal. Who else played a major role in this nonsense? Feminists.

Several years later, there were similar efforts aimed at gangsta rap. Once again, much of the pressure came from a combination of evangelical fundamentalist Christians and feminists. Both groups opposed both types of music (albeit for somewhat different reasons) and sought to limit the access the rest of us had to it. That is to say, they were confident that they knew what you should be listening to better than you did.

July 18, 2017

Puking on the Floor and the Unintended Consequences of Progress

Slumming it in the best Dive bar in the ValleyWhen I was in college, there was a bar a short distance from campus. Actually, I suppose it was a tavern instead of a bar because I don't think they sold anything stronger than beer. At least, I never saw anybody with anything stronger than beer there (with some specific exceptions I'll mention below). It was close enough that one could easily drive there, drink way too much to drive back, and still manage to stumble home safely. It was a dive. But for one night a week, it was our dive.

On Thursday nights, the place was always full of students from the college. There would be a handful of locals too, but it was mostly college kids. This would be reversed on any other night, with locals far outnumbering students. The owners always seemed to enjoy having the college kids there, and the locals - most of whom were middle-aged men - never seemed to mind the college women.

There was an odd tradition that those of us on campus took advantage of as often as possible. On someone's 21st birthday, their friends would take them to this bar and they would be given as many of one particular drink as they wanted with no charge. This drink was not on any menu, and it was not something one could get elsewhere. It was a special concoction the bartenders would make. It had a name, but I don't recall what it was all these years later. Its point was to induce vomiting. Based on what I observed one night, I am almost positive that one of the ingredients was the sort of cheap fortified wine homeless people (and broke college kids) sometimes drink. I saw the bartender send an assistant to a nearby grocery store one night, and I am fairly sure he returned with a bottle of the stuff.

July 16, 2017

Atheists Using Bible Verses Out of Context

bible study
Many atheists have read at least one of the many versions of the bible some Christians characterize as "holy." Not surprisingly, this is especially true for those of us who are ex-Christians. Some of us have read it many times.

Many atheists have attempted to discuss certain portions of this book with Christians. We are fond of highlighting objectionable passages (e.g., those condoning slavery, rape, murder, genocide, and so on) and watching Christians squirm as they try to explain them away. I thought I'd share one of the ways I have observed Christians attempting to do this and see if you have had similar experiences.

In this post, I'll consider what I refer to as the "out of context" claim. An atheist presents a Christian with an objectionable passage, and the Christian responds with something like this:
Yes, that does sound pretty bad. The problem is that you are taking it out of context. You've quoted a couple verses, but you have to read the text around these verses to have the proper context to understand what they mean.
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