In the mailbox today: The Oriental Trading “fun&faith” catalog, full of Christian-themed party crafts, toys and gifts for Bible camp. Now, I fully recognize that there’s a need for decorate-your-own cross kits, religious jewelry pieces, Jesus diorama materials and the like, but this catalog has some seriously weird stuff in it. There’s a whole section on the Agents of Truth, a secret undercover spy Bible study school, complete with top secret prayer box, active duty badge, and special agent for god vest (bulletproof?

Bring back the Feast of Fools

…At least, medieval Christianity understood. For most of the year it preached solemnity, order, restraint, fellowship, earnestness, a love of God, and sexual decorum—and then, at New Year’s, it unleashed the festum fatuorum, the feast of fools, and for several days the world was upside down. Clergy played dice on the altar, brayed like donkeys instead of saying “Amen,” had drinking competitions in the nave, farted to the Ave Maria, and delivered spoof sermons based on parodies of the Gospels (The Gospel According to the Chicken’s Arse, perhaps, or The Gospel According to Luke’s Toenail).

The Ron Paul Theocracy Party

“The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers.” — Ron Paul. “The goal of the Constitution Party is to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations and to limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries. […] The U.S. Constitution established a Republic rooted in Biblical law, administered by representatives who are Constitutionally elected by the citizens.

A rare excursion into memetic propagation

Ten books on my bookshelf which almost certainly aren’t on yours. “Threaded Interpretive Languages” by Loeliger. Describes how to build FORTH systems. Published by Byte back when FORTH was mainstream. (Why, yes, I am that old.) A.R.T.H.U.R. by Lawrence Lerner. Poetry from an imaginary AI. Much better than RACTER. “The Third Word War: Apostrophe Theory” by Ian Lee. Starts off as a catalog of grocers’ apostropes, mutates into a collection of photographic meta-references and arch puns.

Texas crackpots

Just so you can plan appropriately : An elusive group just outside of Abilene, Texas is claiming the end of the world is coming in less than a week. The House of Yahweh recently gave ABC reporter Brian Ross access to their west Texas compound. Yahweh leader Yisrayl Hawkins says a nuclear holocaust will come June 12th and only members of his group will be saved. And in case you were thinking they were harmless:

The gap between theory and practice

I did one of those online religion questionnaires. I’m not going to reproduce the whole list of what it suggested for me; the interesting part is it rated Buddhism above Secular Humanism. (Specifically, Therevada Buddhism.) Intellectually, that’s spot on, but the problem I always have is observance. Somehow I seem to be unable to sustain a practice of regular meditation. And without at least that, I don’t see that I could honestly describe myself as a Buddhist.

OMG! Jews!

While some people see Jews everywhere–controlling the media, running international banking, spreading Communism and corrupting our precious bodily fluids–I have the opposite problem: I suffer from Jew blindness. It happens time and time again: “Do you want to sign this Hannukkah card?” “Sure… Wait, Bill is Jewish?!” “Um… Yeah. Duh.” Or another time: “Wait, he speaks Hebrew?” “Well, yes, obviously.” “That’s kinda unusual isn’t it?” “Not necessarily…” “Oh, wait, I get it…”

Ron Paul

Quote: The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders’ political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion. The establishment clause of the First Amendment was simply intended to forbid the creation of an official state church like the Church of England, not to drive religion out of public life.

Season’s greetings

Guardian: More people in Britain think religion causes harm than believe it does good, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today. It shows that an overwhelming majority see religion as a cause of division and tension — greatly outnumbering the smaller majority who also believe that it can be a force for good. Well, that’ll give Richard Dawkins a merry Christmas.

See ’em while you can

Want to see the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that are causing controversy? They’re on the web. Also here. Personally, I don’t think they’re very good, except the second one, but that’s not really the point.