MadPriest on sin

If an action cannot be shown to be harmful without reference to a religious code it is not a sin. 

Marcus Aurelius on fear of death

It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.
- Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor
as quoted on

Voltaire on doubt and certainty

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

Fuller on being alone

Sometimes I think we're alone. Sometimes I think we're not. In either case, the thought is staggering.
R. Buckminster Fuller

Mother Teresa on kind words

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
- Mother Teresa
as quoted on

Peddlers of God's word

Because all peddlers of God’s word have that in common, I think: they tell what costs them least to tell and what will gain them most; and to tell the story of who we really are, and of the battle between light and dark, between belief and unbelief, between sin and grace that is waged within us all, costs plenty and may not gain us anything, we’re afraid, but an uneasy silence and fishy stare.
- Frederick Buechner
as quoted on pacific grace
(hat tip to Mike, Graham, and MadPriest)

The Pope and I

I have as much authority as the Pope, I just don't have as many people who believe it.
- George Carlin

MadPriest on calling for sacrifice

It is always those who have a lot who call for sacrifices to be made. And when they do, they are usually talking to those who they have made sure have nothing to sacrifice in the first place.

Plautus on friendship

Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend.
- Plautus, circa 200 BC
as quoted on

Zappa on stupidity and ignorance

Stupidity has a certain charm - ignorance does not.
- Frank Zappa
as quoted on Facebook

Sudan: Omar Hassan and Amouna Ahamdi

In Khartoum, (North) Sudan, a Christian couple with a newborn son said they have come under attack for converting from Islam to Christianity. Omar Hassan and Amouna Ahamdi fled Nyala, 120 km southwest of Al-Fashir, for Khartoum in June 2010, but knife-wielding, masked assailants on May 4th, 2011, attacked the couple after relatives learned that they had converted from Islam to Christianity. Hassan and his wife were renting a house from her uncle in Khartoum, but he ordered them to leave after learning they had left Islam. His wife was injured trying to protect him during the attack.
“I have been in Khartoum for six months, with no job to support my sick wife,” Hassan said. “Muslims invaded our house and, in an attempt to kill me, they knifed my wife Ahamdi in the hand.” Ahamdi said her brother had stabbed her three times in the stomach nine months ago, seriously injuring her spleen, after she told him she had become a Christian. “I feel pain, but my husband is alive, and we are praying that we get money for treatment for both my hand and the spleen,” she said.

In a violent outburst, her brother also broke her left leg. She was rushed to a local hospital, where personnel were reluctant to treat her because of her conversion. Ultimately she was hospitalized in Nyala Teaching Hospital for three weeks – where she met Hassan, a recent convert who had also suffered for his faith who visited her after hearing how her family hurt her. He said he found no one caring for her in her agony. He called an Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) pastor to help her, and she was discharged after partial recovery – to the hostile home where she had been attacked. “You don’t deserve to be a member of my family,” her angry father had shouted at her. Her family locked her in a room, shackled to a wooden chair, and severely beat her for a month. “I was badly mistreated – they shaved all my hair and my father whipped my head,” Ahamdi said. “But neighbors used to sneak in secretly and provided me food and water.” After freeing her from the chair, they restricted her movement to the property.
“I found a chance to escape to the ECS church, where I got married to Hassan,” she said. “My health continued deteriorating, and the doctors recommended that I be transferred to Khartoum for specialized treatment for my ailing spleen. With a small amount of money, we managed to reach Khartoum by train, where my uncle hosted us not knowing that we were Christians.” In Khartoum, they were unable to afford the medicine prescribed for her spleen. They depend on friends to provide them occasional food, and sometimes go without eating for two days. “We cannot deny Christ – this is a big challenge to us, because we do not have a place to go,” she said, through tears. “We have no food, and we are jobless. I am still in pain, besides having a 2-month-old baby boy to care for.”

(Friends of the Martyred Church)

Present-day Noah

In the year 2011, the Lord came unto Noah and said: "Once again, the earth has become wicked and over-populated, and I see the end of all flesh before me. Build another Ark and save two of every living thing along with a few good humans."
He gave Noah the blueprints, saying, "You have six months to build the Ark before I will start the unending rain for 40 days and 40 nights."

Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard - but no Ark.
"Noah!" he roared. "I'm about to start the rain! Where is the Ark?"
"Forgive me, Lord," begged Noah, "but things have changed. I needed a building permit. I've been arguing with the inspector about the need for a sprinkler system. My neighbors claim that I've violated the neighbourhood zoning laws by building the Ark in my yard and exceeding the height limitations. We had to go to the Development Appeal Board for a decision.
Then the Department of Transportation demanded a bond be posted for the future costs of moving power lines and other overhead obstructions, to clear the passage for the Ark's move to the sea. I told them that the sea would be coming to us, but they would hear nothing of it.
Getting the wood was another problem. There's a ban on cutting local trees in order to save the spotted owl. I tried to convince the environmentalists that I needed the wood to save the owls - but no go!
When I started gathering the animals, an animal rights' group sued me. They insisted that I was confining wild animals against their will. They argued the accommodations were too restrictive, and it was cruel and inhumane to put so many animals in a confined space.
Then the EPA ruled that I couldn't build the Ark until they'd conducted an environmental impact study on your proposed flood.
I'm still trying to resolve a complaint with the Human Rights Commission on how many minorities I'm supposed to hire for my building crew. Immigration and Naturalisation are checking the residential status of most of the people who want to work. The trades unions say I can't use my sons. They insist I have to hire only Union workers with Ark-building experience.
To make matters worse, the Tax Office seized all my assets, claiming I'm trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species. So, forgive me, Lord, but it would take at least 10 years for me to finish this Ark."
Suddenly the skies cleared, the sun began to shine, and a rainbow stretched across the sky.
Noah looked up in wonder and asked, "You mean you're not going to destroy the world?"
"No," said the Lord. "The Government beat me to it."
Thanks to MadPriest!

Justice and love

Justice is what love looks like in public.
- Cornel West
from Call and Response, a documentary on global slavery
as quoted on God's Politics

The Sleeper Awakes

H. G. Wells: The Sleeper Awakes (1910).
The "Sleeper", Mr. Graham, is a depressed insomniac who suddenly falls asleep in the last years of the 19th century and doesn't awake until over two hundred years later. He finds that his meagre money has been well managed in the meantime, and that with compound interest he has become the owner of the world.
Naturally, this means that many people have a deep interest in Graham. The Council, who are in charge of his fortune, want him to stay asleep so they can continue to rule. The downtrodded masses have a superstitious expectation of the Paradise that will arrive when the Sleeper awakes. A fellow named Ostrog manages to wake him and overthrow the Council, in order to rule in Graham's name, while keeping him ignorant of the world of the 22nd century.
After learning of the plight of the people, Graham seizes power himself and inspires the people to fight against their oppressors. The book ends as this battle seems to be victorious, but Graham himself is on the verge of being killed when his aeroplane crashes.

Wells, as usual, describes the world in a thought-provoking way. Graham's egalitarian and democratic ideals are sympathetic, but he lets himself be fooled by the power-hungry Ostrog, who isn't such a champion of the people as he gives himself out to be. Have we seen that before, I wonder? The class society of the 22nd century is a reflection of Imperial England of Wells' time, even to the fact that the lowest classes can be recognized by their uncouth dialect. The power of international corporations over all other political, spiritual, and social forces is well described, while carrying it to its extreme.
The development of the hundred years since the book was written has, of course, carried us in directions different to what Wells describes. The difference, however, is one of detail only, I fear. The trend of power for its own sake and the trend of economic power being the strongest one is, indeed, still to be seen.
One can only hope that we and our decendants will be able to break these trends and create a more humane society than that which the Sleeper awakes to.