Sunday, May 17, 2009

Some Links and Things

* Daniel Mitsui is hosting a sale on his drawings and paintings in order to raise money for medical bills following the birth of his son. I don't have the budget for artwork, but some of his work is quite good; so if you have a taste for such things, go and see whether there's anything that interests you.

* An interesting little short story at "Common Sense Atheism"; it's called 'The Last of the Christians' and written as if it were a journalistic piece from 2371. I like how the journalist garbles belief in the Incarnation in exactly the same way that our reports usually end up garbling the beliefs of exotic religions -- it gives a good sense of distance. It's actually based on a Times piece on the Zoroastrians, which is one reason for the odd bit in the post about Christian debates about intermarriage -- Christians, unlike Zoroastrians, have a long history of being rather promiscuous intermarriers, so we would have to be quite literally talking about a small sect that had only survived because of its isolation; and Christianity, unlike Zoroastrianism, is very much a proselytizing religion: the fatalism of the Israstinians would be an unlikely outcome.

The Zoroastrians, by the way, are (at the present rate of decrease) likely to vanish in the next century. The sacred flame of Yazd will vanish, the once great religion of the powerful Persians will have finally fallen, and no longer will any living voice represent the doctrine of the great moral genius Zoroaster, who three millenia ago taught the people of Bactria to love God, to shun the Lie, to do good work to improve the world, and to treat their cattle well and tend their herds in peace. And so will end a thread in the tapestry of human civilization that has endured for 3000 years. On the other hand, they may surprise us and continue on for centuries more; the voice of Zoroaster, whisper though it may have become, has always been a durable one.

* Sherry at Semicolon is doing a hymn poll to build a list of 100 major recommendations for hymns; if you have some favorites and are interested in contributing, go to the linked post and follow the direction.

* As it says on the sidebar, I at least try to follow principles of amiability on this weblog. I do not always succeed; in a recent argument with Ophelia Benson in the comments thread to this post, when her response seemed to me to be a set of equivocations and red herrings of a pernicious kind that should not be tolerated on such an important subject as people's lives, I became impatient and lost my temper; whatever the reason, however, the lapse of amiability was simply inexcusable. When a severe case like that happens, I have a rule that, whatever the topic, I apologize for my conduct, let the other person have the last major word, and if they have responded elsewhere, link to it. I apologized in the comments thread. Ophelia Benson has her response to the altercation here.

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