A myth vs. truth

Myth: Christianity is about getting lots of money and always having health insurance and being able to do what you want. Christians admire that nice guy Jesus who said some stuff like "separation of church and state" and "those who are willing to give up essential freedom to obtain temporary safety, deserve neither" and "never offend anyone." God is omni-nice, and therefore (1) would never let anyone go to hell and (2) doesn't exist, because if he did, he wouldn't let anything bad happen.

I don't know if anyone actually believes all this; but some people believe some of it. Yesterday my pastor pointed out that there is a difference between being a Christian and a disciple: a disciple submits to his master's teaching and tries to become like him; a Christian may only admire Christ. Some think the teaching is negotiable.

Some truth:

John 16:33: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

It's hard to quote anyone not saying something, but the quotes above are better attributed to Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and politics respectively. What Jesus is recorded saying:

"My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm." (John 18:36)

"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you." (John 15:18)

(Note that Jesus was executed by the Romans at the instigation of the ruling council of that day.)

Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" (Matthew 16:24-26)

(Your mileage may vary, but carrying a cross doesn't sound like freedom or safety to me.)

Omni-nice: I made up the word. For hell, see for example the parable of the tares among many others:

"And He said, 'The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. '" (Matthew 13:37-43)

For existing, see Exodus 3:14: "God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM'; and He said, 'Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel: "I AM has sent me to you."'" You could also take a look at the world around you (looks pretty real to me, though it an error to think that the world is God rather than His creation) and consider e.g. Aquinas's five ways or even praying, if you're honest. (If you're not, consider Mr. Wright's testimony and that praying carries substantial risks, from a certain point of view.)

Questions? Comments? Corrections? Further thoughts? Flames? Leave them in the comments.

You can learn to draw

If you can see and use a pencil, you can learn to draw. Now, you should know that the only person I have taught to draw is myself, so I can't say that I can teach you how because I've taught thousands of others, but on the other hand: I have been teaching myself to draw* in about the last year and a half, after going many years thinking I had no artistic ability (which I didn't, because I didn't develop it).

How to start? Pick up a pencil or pen and start making marks. Copy other people's drawings if you need to. Make value scales (squares with values from black to white). Work on drawing basic solids: boxes, spheres, cylinders, and then cones. Use actual boxes, table tennis balls, tin cans, whatever for reference -- focus on copying what is actually there at first, until you understand them so well you can draw them from memory. Look for what areas are light and dark and gray, and what shapes they are: nature rarely has outlines. It might help to start with neutral, black or white or gray objects, so you don't get confused by color.

Then build up to more complex shapes, almost all of which are made out of these basic ones. Try to draw things that interest you. You will need to learn about linear perspective at some point, but the key is not whether you can quote the rules but how much you've practiced applying them.

Don't get hung up over whether you're an artist or artistic or not. Just draw.

I could go into books and blog posts that I've found helpful, but none of them will help if you don't practice, practice, practice.

* Drawing well is another question. I'm not there yet.

There must be a story in here somewhere...

The U.S. Treasury came into possession of a large number of safe deposit boxes due to bank failures. During the 1930s, over 3,000 banks failed and the contents of their safe deposit boxes were remanded to the custody of the Treasury. If no one claimed the box, it remained in the possession of the Treasury. As of October 1981, there were 1,605 cardboard cartons in the basement of the Treasury, each carton containing the contents of one unclaimed safe deposit box.
(Wikipedia, Executive Order 6102, retrieved 13 Nov 2012)

Note the time: 50 years later, there were more than a thousand unclaimed boxes in the Treasury's basement. Are they still there now? What's in them? Why did no one claim them? Why doesn't Wikipedia have any information more recent than 1981?

Wikipedia cites the Wall Street Journal of October 15, 1981 for this trivia.

Quote on writing

And if you have never written a novel yourself, you don't know to what lengths authors go to procrastinate. I know — because I started working on Krita so I could have an application to draw a map while on the train for the novel I was writing. Seven years later, I'm still hacking, not writing. So, no distractions == good. FocusWriter's theme settings dialog is already a little too much...

Link: boudewijn's comment here.

I suppose this is the sort of post Twitter is useful for, if I needed another distraction.

(no subject)

Despite having almost* no problem with the traffic in Bangladesh, I seem to be having a counterreaction to American traffic where I'm now extremely impatient. Perhaps it's because at least in Bangladesh when you can move, you move.

Oh.... not too hard to guess where I've been.

* I'll admit that the rickshaw carrying gas cylinders gave me a moment's pause. These are the vehicles that we were warned to be ready to jump off at a moment's notice "if anything happens."

(no subject)

My little sister has had vomiting and diarrhea all weekend and was just taken to the hospital. Prayer would be appreciated.

eta 5/15: She came home yesterday.

Forsaking all onions

Several years ago I heard this short story, a modern parable. Draw your own conclusions. (You will have to forgive my plainness in the telling.)

Once upon a time, there was a guy who was attracted to a girl. He asked her out and she accepted, but told him that she couldn't stand onions. He took her to Burger King and went up to the counter to order, and thought about what to order: "Two burgers with mayo, and lettuce, and tomatoes, and pickles, and just put onions on one, please." When he turned around, the girl was gone. He never saw her again. The end.

Meteor, n.

Sometimes you come across something so cool you have to share it. Behold the etymology of meteor:

1471, "any atmospheric phenomenon," from M.Fr. meteore (13c.), from M.L. meteorum (nom. meteora), from Gk. ta meteora "the celestial phenomena," pl. of meteoron, lit. "thing high up," neut. of meteoros (adj.) "high up," from meta- "over, beyond" (see meta-) + -aoros "lifted, hovering in air," related to aeirein "to raise" (see aorta). Specific sense of "fireball, shooting star" is attested from 1593. Atmospheric phenomena were formerly classified as aerial meteors (wind), aqueous meteors (rain, snow, hail), luminous meteors (aurora, rainbows), and igneous meteors (lightning, shooting stars). Meteoric in the figurative sense of "transiently brilliant" is from 1836.

(From the Online Etymology Dictionary.)

I think this makes me happy because it reminds me of the old-fashioned sounding words in Monster Blood Tattoo.