31 August 2007

State Quiz Result -- I'm "Maryland"

Having grown up in the Northern Virginia suburbs near Maryland, I'm not surprised that there isn't a "Washington DC" aspect to my results.

From my experiences, the Maryland DC suburbs seem more like a "typical Washington suburb" than Northern Virginia did.

You're Maryland!

You enjoy contemplating your navel so much that you want to build a whole school devoted to said purpose. You like Chevy Chase a ton as well, maybe even more than Cal Ripken since he started doing those Century 21 commercials. Mostly, though, you want to kick back, watch the ballgame, and eat crabcakes. Brick is by far your favorite building material. You might even call yourself a brick house.

Take the State Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

29 August 2007

Toles Op-Ed Cartoon Commentary on Senator Craig

This cartoon addresses the perceived concerns directed towards liberal gay-friendly bloggers on Senator Larry Craig's recent arrest (examples can be found here, here, and here).

Liberal bloggers are not criticizing him for not following some hypothetical gay "party line." They are commenting on Larry Craig being a hypocrite.

25 August 2007

How to Make Windows XP Last for the Next Seven Years

With an installed user base of 538 million, it's very likely that your congregation is using Windows XP in your office and in the homes of your volunteers.

With the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy in play here, I would check out this article on Computerworld magazine's web site:

How to make Windows XP last for the next seven years

"If you've got Windows XP, worry not -- you can keep it running on your hardware for years to come. As with an old car, though, if you plan to keep XP around for a while, you're going to have to spend some time maintaining it. Think of us as your virtual mechanics. We'll give you tips, tweaks and tricks so that you'll be able to keep XP running smoothly, at top performance, for smooth operation and long life."

"The company's standard life-cycle policy provides bug fixes and security patches (known as mainstream support) for five years after initial release, and security-patch-only support (known as extended support) for an additional five years. Although Microsoft often doesn't provide extended support for its consumer products, the company says that XP Home and XP Pro will get identical support periods."

"Microsoft's support road map currently says that extended support for Windows XP ends in April 2014. You need to be on the latest service pack within one year of its release for continued support, which at this point means you must be running XP Service Pack 2."
This article will help a cash-strapped congregation keep using older-but-functional hardware for several more years.

23 August 2007

Watch "This World: Race Hate in Louisiana" (BBC Documentary)

Watch this BBC documentary on racism, segregation, threats of lynching, and racially-motivated injustice in Jena, Louisiana.

The All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church Board in Shreveport, Louisiana voted unanimously to have a special congregational meeting after church on 9 September 2007 to discuss a resolution in support of the Jena Six and to discuss what actions the congregation might want to take to support them.

09 August 2007

Atheist Version of Pascal's Wager

I saw this on Greta Christina's blog and I thought it was worth sharing with the Unitarian Universalist blog community. It's an Atheist version of Pascal's Wager.

Greta had noticed the Atheist version of Pascal's Wager as an off-hand comment on the Pharyngula ("Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal") where they were discussing the blog article on Dilbert creator Scott Adams' blog where he defends Pascal's Wager as a reasonable case for believing in God.
"Any deity this argument (the original Pascal's Wager) applies to is evil. Honestly, E-V-I-L... You might as well take the Atheist's Wager. Do good, then if there's a evil God everybody is still screwed. If there is a good God then you go to heaven, if there is no God then doing good is its own reward."
I mention this because our congregation's Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship had a multi-week series on "tough issues" in Christianity with a guest minister from the Shreveport Bible Church offering Pascal's Wager as a serious argument for believing in God.

Even more fun is Scott Adams' next blog article where he addresses the previous blog article about Pascal's Wager:
"Personally, if I were more rational, and less focused on immediate gratification, I would become a moderate, peace-loving Muslim. My reasoning is that Islam has the best chance of becoming the dominant world religion in the future, and therefore probably has God’s backing, if he exists. The Muslim belief that death is sometimes a good thing is a huge advantage in a future where weapons are improving, and the only thing keeping people from using them is fear of death.

If you believe God exists, the smart money says he’s backing the team with the best strategy and long term viability. Based on what I see today, I’m betting on Islam being the only religion in a thousand years. Once you can build your own nuke from stuff you buy online, don’t be betting on the Buddhists."
And I guess this pretty much illustrates the practical limits of using probability and game theory strategies to discern theological truth.

07 August 2007

02 August 2007

Where Does "Theology" Stop and "Mental Masturbation" Begin?

I've been looking at the recent replies on Philocrites' blog to the "Isaac Newton's anti-Trinitarianism in the news" article.

Much of the discussion touches on speculation about Jesus and his relationship to God along with various competing christologies -- unitarian, trinitarian, etc.

Maybe I'm just too simple-minded but I'm finding most theological discussions to be "mental masturbation." The Urban Dictionary definition of this term is "The act of engaging in useless yet intellectually stimulating conversation, usually as an excuse to avoid taking constructive action in your life."

Personally, I don't totally like the term "mental masturbation" because it implies that masturbation (the physical sexual act ... not the "mental" variety) is a useless and non-productive act. I've blogged about the life-affirming and spirituality-enhancing aspects of this in the past:
However, I can accept this phrase as an imperfect metaphor.

So ... most theological discussions are a lot of mental fun but I find too much too much theology to be useless and non-productive for the work that needs doing in the world.

Certainly, too much theological discussion can be a real "Doritos syndrome" experience once you're done.

I'm really not that concerned about christology but I am concerned about practical soteriology.

How can Unitarian Universalists offer salvation and protect us from those things in the world that deny life or make life less whole?

To me, that is a more important question for us than the existence and the nature of God, the relationship between God and Jesus, and all the other questions that come up in most theological discussions.