Sunday, January 27, 2019

Saying sorry

Dear Hannah,

The original Christians were huge fans of penance.  This meant, in effect, that if you did something wrong and you were sorry you had to prove it.  But saying sorry wasn't enough, for obvious reasons, so they added works to it.  Fixing things you broke and such -- which worked well until somebody realized paying hurt too.  So you'd give alms to the person you hurt, or something like that, until somebody realized that sins were against God, at which point they said you could just give money to the church. 

This was a revelation of great convenience. The Crusades and St. Peters' needed funding.  Some genius realized guilting was more lucrative than tithing.  So the Church re-branded these works of penance "indulgences," and people's sins became the church's gain.  The worse things got spiritually, the better they got financially.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

In defense of James Watson

Dear H-,

James Watson, the man responsible for discovering the structure of DNA and thus paving the way for entirely new branches of science, for whole fields of medicine, for new problems in ethics and a fresh perspective on mankind, has been stripped of his awards -- for not being Martin Luther King Jr.  The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the lab Watson ran for decades and which he personally made famous, has publicly repudiated the ninety-year-old man for having the opinions of ninety-year-old men.

Friday, January 18, 2019

A letter to what's left of my readers

To my dear readers,

The internet has given and the internet has taken away. At this point I'm supposed to give a blessing, but God isn't running the internet and I can't find it in myself to do it.  Used to having around 300 views per essay, Facebook and Twitter are now giving me around 30.  This means I've been effectively shut out, and my late foray into, which is supposed to be the internet's Argentina to everyone accused of being a Nazi, got me more hookers as followers than actual fans.  And I am not a fan of hookers.  Neither am I a fan of Nazis. I'm not interested in or rich enough for the first and not white or stupid enough for the second.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Gossip and nonsense: a partial review of Yuval Noah Harari's "Sapiens"

Dear T-,

Once you've been buying books on Amazon for years, you start to realize that a best-seller gets a few thousand five-star ratings because it's written by a genius or it's written for idiots.  Yuval Noah Harari's monster-hit Sapiens thus far appears to have the qualities of both.  Like the best teachers, he says deep things in simple ways and is thus capable of getting morons to think.  Thus far there's no frilly writing, or convoluted phrasing, or wonkish lingo, or affectation of any sort.  He gets right at what he's going to say and he does it with the straight-forwardness of a C.S. Lewis, or a George Orwell -- not the finer prose of either, but the grandfather-like simplicity.  He preaches, but gently.  The only people who hate his book, from what I can tell from the one-star reviews, are religious folks who realize the rug is being pulled from under them.  He says God is imaginary, like nations, money, and corporations, they realized they couldn't believe Sapiens and the book of Genesis, and they artfully picked the latter.