Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What I was doing instead of blogging

I was redoing my office. I inherited an office with walls that looked like this:

Needless to say, this was not acceptable. So, I repainted, got new office furniture, and hung up some pictures, and here we are:

This is the view as you enter my office. I will be replacing the office chair sometime soon.

This is my grandfather's desk, which now belongs to my brother and he is graciously letting me use. A lot of the pictures are his as well.

This is the peace lily that I got from my dad's funeral last May--it's sitting on a walnut chair my brother got from Jordan High School.

You can see here what I did with that hideous wallpaper--I left the portion below the chair rail as a faux-wainscoting.

I bought this desk for $150 at a used furniture store. It matches the roll top desk perfectly and it's solid walnut. A little polishing and a glass cover and it looks great. I am changing the knobs to something a little less target-like, but the new knobs are on back order and won't be here for a week.

Finally, here is my view. It will be supplemented by a large antique framed map as soon as the map gets out of the frame shop. I will also be getting new chairs as soon as I have the money to do so.

Anyway, I just got done with this yesterday, so let me know what you think.

UPDATE: Just got this from the framing shop:


Monday, April 27, 2009

Quote for the day

“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year-old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

Kung-Fu Monkey

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday music post: Agnus Dei

I know it's late for Easter, but I got it up before Pentecost--what more do you want?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A distraction for your Thursday

I was going to write about the torture memos, but I got sucked in playing the new Gemcraft game because I didn't want to think about it. Give it a try, but don't be surprised if you end up losing track of time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The stupid, it burns...

First tea-bagging, and now this:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Colbert Coalition's Anti-Gay Marriage Ad
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest

And of course, no one is better at mocking it than Stephen Colbert. By the way, National Organization for Marriage's campaign is called . . .

Wait for it . . .

Two million for marriage, or 2M4M for short. So, so, sad . . . .

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mind the Gaps

I have long argued that a belief in organic evolution was not incompatible with a belief in God or some other metaphysical belief. My support for this was Stephen Jay Gould's argument for "Non-Overlapping Magisteria:"

The net of science covers the empirical universe: what is it made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for starters, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty). To cite the arch cliches, we get the age of rocks, and religion retains the rock of ages; we study how the heavens go, and they determine how to go to heaven.

However, the more I have thought about the idea that science and religion are trying to answer totally different questions, the more I realize that Gould is talking about something different than what most people think of as religion. How much different would religion look if, as Gould suggests, it were limited to questions of meaning and value?

For one thing, there would be no miracles, or at least not as miracles are currently regarded. It is a tenet of most believers' faith that God answers prayers not only through inner peace and inspiration, but also through actual intervention in the physical world. If God were to intervene in that way, science would be able to detect his presence. The problem with actual, physical miracles is that they are not normative, but rather descriptive. The believer is claiming that an event was brought about by divine intervention. That is a testable claim.

The way to get around this dilemma would be to posit that God does not actually intervene in the physical world, but rather, being omniscient, had the foreknowledge to plant the seed of the miracle in the foundations of the universe. While this is a perfectly reasonable way of reformulating the idea of miracles, it calls into question the necessity of prayer. Why should the believer ask for divine favor when the die has been cast already? While one can argue that it is to show faith and penitence, that is a much different view of prayer than most adhere to.

While a totally non-descriptive religion is possible, I wonder if the idea of a God who does not perform miracles would be attractive to most believers. Cordoning off religion to the realm of ethics, rather than its former position of being priest, lawyer, scholar and king is disconcerting. Fundamentalism is attractive to many because the idea of shared authority does not provide the surety that they need in their lives. Can religion survive as one voice among many? Time will tell, I guess . . . .

Monday, April 20, 2009

An update

Sometimes your body just forces you to slow down.

The last three weekends, I've been busy. Very busy. I stripped off the wallpaper in my office and painted three weekends ago. I was doing taxes two weekends ago, and this last weekend I went to St. George and sang with the choir. Since the only time I usually have to blog is on the weekends, my blog turned into a ghost town. But this morning, I woke up with a sore throat from hell. I was having difficulty swallowing, and my tongue and glands felt swollen. I went to the doctor and was (unsurprisingly, given how I felt) diagnosed with strep throat.

But, dear readers, my suffering is your gain, because being cooped up in the house for a few days will give me some time to actually do some blogging. So, this week, I will wrap up the LDS same-sex marriage series, blog about the events in Iowa and Vermont, and generally pick up my blogging life again. I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to comment and send my posts to your friends. Sometimes I feel like the ghost in The Ring--I'm not looking for peace, just publicity.

So, while you're waiting for new material, why don't you take a minute and read some of my other work?

LDS Doctrine and Same-Sex Couples:part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, and part 6.

The Prop 8 case: A legal analysis of Strauss v. Horton: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

Same-Sex Marriage, equality and Religious Freedom: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, and Part 8.

Rants on Religion: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Random musings about Science, politics, grammar, and bathroom graffiti: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7.