The Crucifix and the Cross: Questions Answered

Cristo_crucificadoThere have been a lot of articles about banning crosses lately. Bridging the differences between east and west, we see people on two continents strive to get rid of them. On pretty much every article in question, I see at least one Facebook comment, “People should note the difference between a cross and a crucifix.”

I am not certain if the problem lies in the fact that no reporter bothers to investigate the difference, or if that the commentariat wishes that the difference be expressed in the  banning.

I’m inclined to believe in the former. The latter is too depressing to think about.

Just in case, I aim at both ideas.

First, the crucifix depicts Christ on the cross. (see painting above) There are many styles, from the dramatic, bloody, and starving, where suffering is plainly evident. There are stylized crucifixes, which suggest a shadow of a body to an almost generic figure. Others show a more loving aspect to our Lord while pinned to the cross, thus speaking plainly the closeness of the Resurrection to his suffering and death. These are almost exclusively Catholic. There may still be high church Anglicans that carry the crucifix, but they are swimming cross the Tiber by the day, as their own church, drunk on letting it all hang out, lose their flock to the howling wilderness.

By Dmitry Ivanov (Own work) [Public domain or CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Dmitry Ivanov (Own work) [Public domain or CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Orthodox among us have the twin cross which might carry the corpus. (That’s what a representation of Christ on a cross is actually called.)

Even they are a bit more temperate than those Catholics at showing off the corpus. Catholics seem almost mad over it.

A plain old cross is, just that. Two planks of wood tethered together, used to describe almost every other flavor of Christianity other than Catholicism. There are an almost infinite number of ways to describe two sticks tied together, two planks of a tree, two rods of iron that intersect, welded unbreakably together.

By Kehlmann Studio Archive (Kehlmann Studio Archive) [CC BY 1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Kehlmann Studio Archive (Kehlmann Studio Archive) [CC BY 1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

So I must point out…

If both the crucifix and the cross both refer to Christianity, you will never convince a Marxist that there is any difference. To a bourgeois, you could argue that a cross without a corpus is a kinder and gentler thing. If he already believes that Catholics are harmful but another sort of Christian is benign, he will sleepily go along with what you say. But never, ever will a Marxist or any form of communist see the difference. If it points to God, he will destroy it, no matter how kind or benign the object. He will destroy the Easter bunny rabbit, along with the empty tomb.

You must understand that the Marxist revels in that which shocks, that which marvels and that which makes one uncomfortable. Inhumanity to man is the mark of his faith. Man’s inhumanity to God might make God plausible, and that must be eradicated first of all.

For Christ’s crime was not that he was kind, not that he was a wise teacher, that he healed the sick, or that he banished demons, that he sang or ate on the Sabbath day. It was not even that he raised his friends from the dead, or broke us free from the bonds of sin. It is that he is God and we are not. That is the full stated crime of Christ Jesus. And for that He must suffer for all of our sins.

I argue that a crucifix speaks this truth more eloquently, but a cross points to the same truth with a more general sort of point. An empty cross is a stage, a sentence without an object. A crucifix points to the lengths God would go to love his children.

A cross states there is room on his Throne for everybody. Think carefully, and tell me again which message is more gentle.

Keyboard_Cross

The Special Hell

special_hell-n

I found another category of “specially damned” individuals rampant in modern times. All those people who morph the faces of their friends or famous people (who can tell) on classic paintings. If that weren’t bad enough, they share them to the point it uselessly pollutes Google image search with the world’s most wretched and ugly Photoshop.

For goodness sake, what did Velasquez ever do to you?!  Just search for Velasquez if you really want your eyes to bleed.

OK, Fine. This is by far the best of the lot. It’s even funny.

So I guess sentence reduced to eating desert first and purgatorial probation.

diego-velasquez

Favorite SF Books

398px-Bookshelves_with_books_in_library

ED: Here’s an old draft that I published elsewhere. Stuff is busy today, so I’m bailing on blog posts that are actual work.

There’s supposed to be a short snippet at the OWG about your favorite SF novel. I can’t do it. I just can’t. 50 words about a single title is just too confining.

I guess I will have to settle with which changed me the most in a lasting way. With this, I have narrowed it down to three.  They are… Fairy Land, The Diamond Age, and A Brave New World.   Fairy Land is a book I read in 2001. It broke my head.  Beautifully written, a compelling story with a gut wrenching twist at the end. The style is reminiscent of “When Gravity Fails” except the world is even more layered vivid and intense.

The Diamond Age is a wonderful character driven story that happens to be about how people socialize and learn.  Expect the usual zany Stephensonian world features, and the death of cyberpunk.  But, it was a good death.

I don’t even have to write about A Brave New World. So I won’t.

Woah, wait! That’s not fun!  We can’t have what’s good for you be The Best Science Fiction ever.  It’s about which was the most exciting and engrossing SF, right? I guess I could come up with three.  Fun is a big category, and it’s hard to measure, let alone rank.  Those are– man, do I have to choose?  There are a fist full of Bujold, so I will arbitrarily pick Brothers in Arms.  Weber gave us Honor Harrington– we’re up in the 20-30 range? Pick one. Take two, they are that good.

I’m also partial to Cherryh, from The Pride of Chanur to The Foreigner series.  One of my favorite Elizabeth Moon SF stories is “Remnant Population”.  Then there’s Sarah Hoyt.  Her short stories are overlooked, but let’s make our life simpler and stick to novels.  What, you mean I have to pick… one?!

Oh, no, it’s about mind altering worlds and strange concepts and the wonder in the universe. So Count to A Trillion by John C Wright tops that list.

Should it be all dancing about architecture? well, maybe not. We are storytelling about science. Science in real life is filled with great stories, many of whom are never told.  This is why the System of the World trilogy is technically science fiction. Even if its’ also historical fiction,and a swashbuckling epic romp through at least eight novels woven together into three great ox stunning books.

So… you see the problem?  Wait… this is a PROBLEM?!

Music: That Terrible Freedom

The song is actually called “Trial by Fire” by a ThouShaltNot… not to be confused with “Through Fire”..a forthcoming novel by Sarah Hoyt.  I do have to wonder if this song inspired her… for various reasons.

My musings lead me to wonder what Ariel’s life was like after he was released by Prospero.  One of my many story ideas is about what happens when a magicians apprentice is loosed on the world after his master died.  Because the Green Angel Tower series pissed me off that much.  But I can’t say that Tad Williams didn’t warn me.

But it may be why so many young people seem terrified of freedom. If you are coddled and protected all your life, and have no freedom at all– it eventually becomes threatening. It evolves into a spectral variation on Fear of the Unknown.

It doesn’t help that they are trained from birth to know that power over others is more valuable than personal freedom– while being taught they believe otherwise.

But do you trust freedom that was designed by people you don’t even understand?  But if you don’t know the unintended consequences (and these poor children don’t even know they exist, apparently), how can you know that what you design yourself through will gives you what you really want?

 

 

The Phyrric twitter Barrage

JW with script

From my last post… (Age of Ultron Review, for those just arriving)

Speaking of gauntlets, I guess I have to talk about the Pyrrhic twitter barrage.

Joss is so not one of my political compatriots. Yet these women… can’t even wrong properly. Seriously. Why attack and devour one of their own? They call that a win? If they think they scored points in the culture war, well, let’s just say they were engaging in some deliberate friendly fire, just because.

Hell of a way to lose, mon cheri. God Speed, and enjoy those ashes in your mouth. If this keeps up, those of us in the “leave me alone” contingent won’t have to fire a shot.

So I said above, “You can’t even wrong properly” as if a retrograde reprobate such as myself knows what I’m talking about. Well, you see, just because I’m not flinging poo from across the isle does not mean I have always been what I am today. I have a fair degree of experience with the whole feminist culture warrior shtick, and I took my leave based on experience. I was also not born in an echo chamber. My family spanned the culture war from both ends, so I had a good look at the best and worst of both worlds.

In order to fisk these criticisms, I don’t even have to dip into the well of my knee jerk libertarianism– or probe the depths of my Catholic sympathies. Logic and reason don’t even have to enter into it. All I have to do is channel my mother, who was also a second wave radical feminist. Compared to these people, she had nuance. She had read a bit more history. But it is still the putrid foundation from which their culture springs.

BuPmd6A

She would have given him points for quoting Abigail Adams at a critical juncture, when we learn that a certain character with leadership qualities gets many of them from his SO. We have seen Black Widow be nothing but a strong, dispassionate warrior for two or three films, and now we see what is behind those eyes, what she struggled against to overcome. When she shows some sign of regret… how can you truly struggle without it? We are informed that she is insufficiently strong, because she did not celebrate a decision that was forced on her. Excuse me? So now we aren’t pro-choice, but no choice?

Well, at least you are being honest for a change. And I guess the fact that she has rescued several heroes and has the massive Hulk wrapped around her little finger means nothing.

Now for a place where they really fell down on the job. The Red Witch. Oh, sure, she’s the bad ass who brings the strongest heroes down low, and is the only reason why her unassailable speed-demon brother bothers to get up every day. She even catches Ultron unawares and manages to get her and her sib away alive, which is a real accomplishment when dealing with that cruel and vindictive robot.

But she had a massive breakdown in the middle of a critical battle– and has to get a pep talk from a strong male character to move on. And guess what? He’s the closest to the straight white male the whole movie has. Burn. Aaaaannnnd, they miss it completely.

Where are the haters when you really need them? Do they have the true courage of their convictions, or do they fling poo because that is all they know how to do? They can’t even do it particularly well by their own standard.

You need a flipping Catholic libertarian to school you on how it’s done. You had one job…

The Economics of Piracy

consider-piracy

Read this.  Below is a comment on the same link from masgramondou, who fortunately weighs in at the first comment. It’s important enough, I re-posted the whole thing.

Piracy. Yes you want to stop it but, yes, it may be the best marketing tool you have as an unknown author.

Eric Flint (and others, e.g. Cory Doctorow) said it originally about a decade ago but it still remains the case. Remember the average reader is not in fact a criminal and, these days, understands that authors need the royalties to survive.

If you make it easy to purchase and consume then the majority of people who might consider pirating your work will buy it. However the price has to be right (i.e. $4.99 not $14.99 or $24.99) and you have to make it so that they can easily get it on the device(s) they want. Do that and most people will buy not steal. And the ones who will steal, probably wouldn’t pay no matter what you did so if the piracy is electronic you aren’t losing anything

 

 

This reflects some data I’ve seen from folks in the ad industry, who normally study what makes an on-line ad effective. What is interesting is that the numbers reflect very nicely, except that pirated works (especially text based fiction) are a better return on investment than internet advertising. Think on that a moment.

In the Tabletop Role Playing business, where razor thin margins are a way of life, there are companies who upload free copies of their games into torrent as an advertising strategy. They say that it is by far the best advertising dollars they spend– by a long mile.

FWIW, the company used something like paper chase to collect data on where their copies went. Only they weren’t hunting for pirate 0. (Or, in this case, pirates 1-500+)They did a distribution survey and how much pattern matching they got in their purchase database. The numbers they reported on that return were absurdly high. I mean, sure, they make good games, but… would you base your economic model on that unless the numbers were definitive?

Also, professional musicians are known to upload free videos to youtube, with full production quality sound. Everybody knows there is a way to download and strip away the video. More often than not, if somebody likes it, they will fire up Amazon or iTunes and pay up to get the produced version, even if there is little practical difference.

Remember: MTV and terrestrial radio were started on the theory that people buy what they like when they hear it for free. Note that MTV started in the 1980’s, when it had been established that the radio music sales model works.

Aristotle meets Jesus

An oldie but a goodie.

Margot St. Aubin

Aristotle depicted by Raphael, holding his Ethics: detail from the Vatican fresco The School of Athens, 1510 – 1511.

I think Chesterton is ignored today because we do not have the intellectual fortitude to understand his point. We are blinded by wit and a clever turn of phrase, but do not see the meaning behind what is said.

Thought is virga, showering us, yet dries up before it touches the soil. Because we do not believe that reality is real, thought is less than metaphysical, less than smoke. Talk is cheap and meaning is non existent.

Moral relativism is the philosophy of depression and death– a death of cold. That is, falling asleep, thinking everything is fine.  All you see is the whiteness of a blank page; there appears no reason to worry. Yet reality will still devour you, and finds it easier to do so when there is no…

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The War on Fandom– By Fandom

The War on Fandom– By Fandom

Comikaze_Expo_2011_-_Cyberman_from_Doctor_Who_(6324615505)

By The Conmunity – Pop Culture Geek from Los Angeles, CA, USA (Comikaze Expo 2011 – Cyberman from Doctor Who) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This.

Background here. And this. And this. And this.

Sigh. What happened to that happy amoeba of “we all share our weirdness together”?

I matriculated in the fan culture that built fan run conventions. Yes, I’m talking about cons like Worldcon. Working from the inside, the original culture of fandom was inclusive, welcoming– a veritable melting pot of shared love of our various obsessions. There are many obsessions, but these are mine! See, this is how I enjoy them and we can be our geeky awkward selves in a shared space! For a time, those values overtook barriers of politics, false identity and economic differences and put all that BS aside to have a special place. Then, somewhere along the line, fandom got… popular.

We weren’t really sure what to do about it.

Since then, some values from the outside our ranks have gotten their way in.

They say sinister things, like:

  • Some fans are more fannish than others. They don’t belong among us.
  • You aren’t safe here. We’ll make separate, safe spaces under our broad tent, so you will not be harmed/tainted by these other nobs.
  • You aren’t really inclusive if you don’t specifically check all the check-boxes we say you need to check.

 

All of this boils down to one toxic message:

People who are different from each other cannot hope to get along. Strangers will attack you. Separate into your comfort zones and be safe.

Let me give some people who claim to be our leading lights some insight.

THESE ARE NOT THE VALUES THAT DIY FANDOM STARTED WITH. If they were, mass fandom would not exist.

Why?

First: you live or die by how many people you could entice into the community.  These awesome cons cannot survive without attendees– and fresh blood.  And while families do come to cons, there aren’t enough to support us– or replace us.

Well, if we really believed the new school, why would be bother creating big diverse organizations to begin with? Who would bother to attend conventions in hotels surrounded by people? We’d invite those safe people to our homes, and tell the rest of the universe to go hang. We would be content with local clubs. Under circumstances like these, who would bother inventing WORLD CON?

Why do I go to conventions? I go to MEET OTHER FANS. I could care less what the vast majority of these media conglomerates want to sell me. If I want to buy something? I will go and find that thing on the internet. I don’t need to stand in line for hours for a brief glimpse of some movie star I’m in love with. I can write fan fic in the privacy of my own basement.

Honestly, it is the characters I care about, full stop. The actor wears the visage for a brief shining moment (he or she calls it work) and shares himself with that character so we may all love him. This is awesome, but not my area of interest.

The second thing I want, is meet the minds who came up with these characters, and script their lives. I’d like to buy them a drink (doesn’t even have to be alcoholic) and have a social chat with them. That is why I chose to join fannish society– and that is why I still love the idea of Worldcon.

Maybe DIY fandom can’t scale the way Media West and Dragon Con can. You know what? Unequal numbers don’t bother me. Local smaller groups just makes it easier to find time to spend with the folks who socialize in consuite. I’ve talked to some incredibly famous writers– including Terry Pratchett even a hand full of movie stars. I have truly been blessed to be part of Fandom. And my old stomping ground convention wasn’t even that big, or that rich. We just had a good culture that ran a reliable con, so we got some big names for treating everybody well.

But if the big tent is divided into ever smaller warring factions– all these cool things won’t even be possible.

What bothers me is that these apparent leading lights of DIY fandom have forgotten their roots, their purpose– and that is a threat to ALL fandom. Because, once we forget our roots, we forget who we are, period.

This divide and conquer strategy is lethal. Because sooner or later, folks will realize they don’t have the money to be a part of this global social club where they only meet the people they are comfortable with. Why can’t they just meet those safe approved people somewhere cheaper? Aren’t there a hundred different ways to have a private safe gathering that exclude people we don’t like? Suddenly, you don’t need a con anymore.

Because, surprise, the con is SUPPOSED TO BE THE SAFE PLACE FOR ALL OF US. Not just the special ones, but everybody.

Take a risk and meet someone new.

Not Dead Yet, Part VI: “Dead Man’s Grave”?

From geograph.org.uk Author Evelyn Simak License: Creative Commons

So Evelyn tells us she does not know why Norfolk (or this part of Norfolk) was once called “Dead Man’s Grave”.   I have a theory.  If you search for the phrase, “Dead Man’s Grave” using the googles (presumably not a resource had back when) you find a reference to 2 Kings 13:21.  OR, if you are a student of the Douay Rheims or older standard texts, 4 Kings 13:21.  So it might be an accident of Wikimedia Search that this image comes up under “Not Dead Yet”, OR… somebody knows more than they are telling.

For the benefit of tired click fingers  (I’ll start at 20 to give a BIT more context):

[20] And Eliseus died, and they buried him. And the rovers from Moab came into the land the same year.

[21] And some that were burying a man, saw the rovers, and cast the body into the sepulchre of Eliseus. And when it had touched the bones of Eliseus, the man came to life, and stood upon his feet.

To have this area called “Dead Man’s Grave”  in context of this reading, hints at miracles.  If you think that’s crazy, keep in mind folks were far more versed in the readings than we are today. Even if they couldn’t read, the majority went to Mass every Sunday (presumably, if the name is well and truly ancient, it comes from a time before Henry the 8th, when England was Catholic) and heard the scriptures read, in total, once every three years.

Contrary to popular belief, scripture was read in the vernacular in Church, in England, in the medieval period.  There was a popular movement to evangelize the masses, up to and including creating a style of Gregorian chant accessible to the average layman. Those were not sung in Latin as one would expect, but in English, and are also chock full of references to scripture.

People were wont to memorize things more often, because paper was expensive. Also the monks taught that sort of thing to young smart fellows.  The merchant class had to come from somewhere.  So if someone nearly dies on the road, but seems to come back to life miraculously, remembering the place by a reference to the book of Second (or Fourth) Book of Kings seems fitting.

But what do I know, I’m just a writer.  🙂

One book I want to write, was one from the perspective of a medieval atheist walking  on a ‘pilgrimage’ to Aquinas’ Paris. He wants to argue with The Angelic Doctor, and has many encounters along the way. Think a cross between Mindwalk and The Canterbury Tales.  Here’s hoping I learn enough history to make that happen. Buty that one is on the back, back burner. This stove is getting ridiculous!