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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus

Let’s get cynical…

 

"Cynic: an idealist whose rose-colored glasses have been removed, snapped in two and stomped into the ground, immediately improving his vision" - Rick Bayan

Cynicisn was, like the Doric column and the gyro sandwich, invented by the Greeks.  As Rick Bayan explains…

The first Cynics (we capitalize the name when we’re talking about the ancient ones) were students of a now-obscure philosopher named Antisthenes, who in turn was a student of the illustrious Socrates. Like Socrates, the Cynics believed that virtue was the greatest good. But they took it a step further than the old master, who would merely challenge unsuspecting folks to good-natured debates and let their own foolishness trip them up.

The Cynics were more blunt when it came to exposing foolishness. They’d hang  out in the streets like a pack of dogs (“Cynic” comes from the Greek word for  dog), watch the passing crowd, and ridicule anyone who seemed pompous, pretentious, materialistic or downright wicked. Fiercely proud of their independence, they led disciplined and virtuous lives. The most famous of the ancient Cynics was Diogenes, who reportedly took up residence in a tub to demonstrate his freedom from material wants. This cranky street-philosopher would introduce himself by saying, “I am Diogenes the dog. I nuzzle the kind, bark at the greedy and bite scoundrels.” He’d use a lantern by daylight, explaining that he was searching for an honest man. Even Alexander the Great didn’t escape unscathed. When the young conqueror found Diogenes sitting in the marketplace and asked how he could help him, the old philosopher replied that “you can step out of my sunlight.”

Bayan, who believes that cynicism is as important today as ever, has created The Cynic’s Sanctuary, one of whose fascinating features is the Cynic’s Hall of Fame; arranged chronologically, by date of birth, it begins with…

Aesop (c. 600 B.C. ) Was he real or legendary? We’re not absolutely sure. Aesop may have been a slave who lived on the Greek isle of Samos; it’s said that he was slain by irate priests at the Oracle of Delphi. (He probably got himself into hot water by mocking their beliefs.) His works weren’t assembled into book form until about eight centuries after his time. No doubt numerous ancient storytellers added to the collection along the way. But the reputed author of the world’s most famous fables — man or legend — has to stand as literature’s great proto-Cynic. His brief moral tales are sharp allegories of human folly — even when the characters are foxes, crows, mice, tortoises and hares. Aesop’s Fables teem with the wisdom and gentle mockery of someone who knows the human animal inside and out (especially our weaknesses). If you think Aesop is just for children, think again — and read him again.

Favorite quote:
“Familiarity breeds contempt.”

The roster continues through the expected (e.g., Rabelais, Voltaire, Mark Twain) and the not-so-expected (Jesus, Shakespeare, Schopenhauer)…

In times like these, it’s comforting to know that one can take refuge in The Cynic’s Sanctuary.

 

As we memorize our Mencken, we might recall that it was on this date in 1780 that General Benedict Arnold betrayed the US when he wrote British General Sir Henry Clinton, agreeing to surrender the fort at West Point to the British army.  Arnold, whose name has become synonymous with “traitor,” fled to England after the plot fell through.  The British gave Arnold a brigadier general’s commission with an annual income of several hundred pounds, but only paid him £6,315 plus an annual pension of £360 because his plot had failed.  After the Revolutionary War, Arnold settled in Canada, and turned his hand to land speculation, West Indies, trade, and privateering– none of them very successfully.  He died in 1801.

source

 

God’s Bloodline: all of those “begats”, diagrammed…

From Soul LIberty:

click image above, or here, for larger version

 

As we try to remember the difference between a first-cousin-once-removed and a second cousin, we might recall that it was on this date in 632, in Medina, that Muhammad, the founder and prophet of Islam, died in the arms of Aishah, his third and favorite wife.

The name “Muhammad” written in Thuluth, a script variety of Islamic calligraphy (source)

A Monument for Mr. Wilson…

Long-time (pre-blog) readers will recall the passing of Anthony H. “Tony” Wilson in 2007.  In 1976, Wilson, a recent graduate of Cambridge serving as a feature reporter for Granada TV in the British Midlands, saw the Sex Pistols at the Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall.  It was, he said, “nothing short of an epiphany.”

Wilson booked the Pistols onto his weekly cultural show, So It Goes (their first appearance on TV), and over the next few years turned the program into the leading broadcast outlet for new music in the U.K.

Much of that music was percolating in Manchester; Wilson became it’s catalyst.  In 1978, with a couple of friends, he started Factory Records, the seminal label that introduced such bands as Joy Division, New Order, A Certain Ratio, The Durutti Column, Happy Mondays, James, and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

But Wilson remained devoted to live performance, anxious that others should share the conversion he had experienced in 1976,  He founded the Hacienda, a nightclub/performance space, where Factory acts and other leading bands of the 80s played– and where the rave was born.

Both Factory and the Hacienda faded with the decade.  But Wilson remained a fixture in British culture, largely as a political commentator on the BBC and ITV.

Tony Wilson died in August 2007. Just over three years later, a memorial headstone designed collaboratively by Wilson’s long-time associates Peter Saville (the art director for Factory Records) and Ben Kelly (the designer of The Hacienda), was unveiled in The Southern Cemetery in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, Manchester.

 

More, at Creative Review.

As we hum “God Save the Queen,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1992 that Jesus did not appear on earth and the Rapture did not occur.

Edgar C. Whisenant, a former NASA engineer and an avid student of the Bible had predicted the Rapture would occur in 1988, between September 11 and 13.  Whisenant’s predictions were taken seriously in some parts of the evangelical Christian community.  Indeed, as the window approached, regular programming on Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN) was interrupted to provide special instructions on preparing for the Rapture.

When it didn’t materialize, Whisenant revised his estimate to 1989.  When that date passed uneventfully, he returned to his sources and returned with an even more confident prediction that it would be on October 28, 1992.  Subsequent predictions were for 1993, 1994, and 1997.

source

 

The Journal of Omens and Signs, Volume 666…

The giant 62-foot tall “King of Kings” Jesus statue– also known as “Big Butter Jesus” and “Touchdown Jesus”– located at Solid Rock Church near Monroe, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati on I-75, was stuck by lightning and destroyed during a thunderstorm on Monday night. The church’s pastor says that they plan to rebuild the statue.

Before (source)

After (source)

Via the ever-riveting Laughing Squid.  More details– and photos– at Dayton Daily News.

As we ponder the portents, we might recall that it was on this date in 618 that Li Yuan became Emperor Gaozu of Tang, initiating three centuries of Tang Dynasty rule over China.

Emperor Gaozu of Tang

One-upping Gordon Gekko…

source

“The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest,” Goldman’s Griffiths said Oct. 20, his voice echoing around the gold-mosaic walls of St. Paul’s Cathedral, whose 365-feet-high dome towers over the City, London’s financial district. “We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieving greater prosperity and opportunity for all.”

-via Profit `Not Satanic,’ Barclays Says, After Goldman Invokes Jesus – Bloomberg.com.

The ever-incisive Matt Taibbi ponders this pontification:  “I didn’t believe this story was true at first — thought it had to be a spoof. But it turns out to be true. The great banks of the world have gone on a p.r. counteroffensive in Europe, and are sending spokescrooks in shiny suits into churches to persuade the masses that Christ would have approved of the latest round of obscene bonuses.”

Taibbi’s piece, which explores how it is that someone could reach this kind of conclusion (spoiler alert:  it’s to do with a self-interested understanding of “free market” ideology) is well worth reading in full.  Here, let me just reprise his all-too-apt conclusion:

There are lots of different varieties of evil in the world. On the extreme end of the spectrum you’ve probably got your Ted Bundy-at-Lake-Sammamish brand of evil, torturers and such, people who actually take pleasure in the suffering of others. You look at people like that and they defy rational explanation; you have to just chalk that up to the universe basically being a horrifying place where there’s either no God at at all or a God who’s just incompetent and/or explaining himself really, really badly.

On the other end of the spectrum, not nearly as evil comparably but still pretty bad, are people like this clown from Goldman. They lie to themselves and think up elaborate reasons to do the bad acts they were already hoping to do anyway. Some day, when historians finish peeling back all the different onion-layers of this financial disaster we’re living out right now, they’re going to find at the heart of it all this social Darwinist mantra wherein a very small group of overeducated twerps agreed to believe that stealing every last dime they could get their hands on was something other than what it looks and sounds like to the rest of us. That protective delusion was the first of the many luxuries they bought with all the money they stole, and see if it isn’t the last they agree to give up. What a bunch of assholes!

By way of context, research company TNS reports that “around half of American, British and German respondents reported that they would not be able to come up with $2,000 in 30 days from savings, borrowing, friends or family” if faced with an emergency…  and then there’s the real poverty in the world that we can and must more aggressively address.

As we recover our composure, we might recall that it was on this date in 1789 that Benjamin Franklin remarked, in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, that “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”  (In fact the first recorded utterance of that sentiment in English was by Daniel Defoe in The Political History of the Devil, 1726: “Things as certain as death and taxes, can be more firmly believed”…  before that [pace Goldman] there was Jesus:  “render unto Caesar…”  One wonders what the front-runners and mortgage pushers at the top of the financial heap will make of that…)

Uncle Ben

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