Apocalyptic Smear of the Catholic Church

Posted by jdrouin on Tue, 05/13/2008 - 22:39

Interesting NYT article about a McCain-supporting minister who made anti-Catholic remarks. He compares the Church to the great whore from the book of Revelation. 


Also interesting was the response of the president of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights: "'I have to assume he's acting sincerely, and now understands' that he's been accepting a lot of conspiracy theories, Mr. Donohue said."

BioShock: Evolving Past the Apocalyptic?

Posted by jdrouin on Tue, 04/29/2008 - 18:50

I recently had (or am currently having) a discussion with Jim Groom, a former Tech Fellow who is now an instructional technologist at the University of Mary Washington. He wrote a post on his blog about two rare Atari video games based on the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween horror movies and how, when they were distributed 25 years ago, their violence (however lo-fi) caused enough of an uproar that they were pulled from shelves. It struck me that the games and the movies -- and the reaction to them -- had something to do with apocalyptic thought.

I recommend clicking here to read the original blog post and conversation about videogames and apocalyptic thought. In part of his response, Jim mentioned a newer game called BioShock, which is billed as a philosophically sophisticated game whose results depend on the player's moral decisions. It's set in 1960 (height of the Cold War) in a post-cataclysmic, underwater city created after WWII and called Rapture. There's a group of characters called the Little Sisters, whom you can either save or harvest (kill); both methods work to your advantage in different ways. The game was programmed with two different endings. If you save all the Little Sisters, you get to see them grow up and have productive, happy lives, and they all return to comfort you on your deathbed (patriarchy, anyone?). If you destroy them all, then the Slicers (the minions of the Enemy) overtake a nuclear submarine, implying a threat to end the rest of the world. What I don't understand is the ending. According to the wiki page, the Slicers overtake the sub no matter which outcome you achieve -- it's just that the narrator relates the events in an angrier voice if you kill the Little Sisters instead of saving them.

I don't know. Based on the description of the game -- I haven't played it -- it still seems to have a binary moral structure with only two possible outcomes. You can either bring the Little Sisters to the "in" group and "save" them, or you can eradicate them by turning them to the "other". I stress the phrase possible outcome, since it's not clear just what the outcome is, given that the Slicers perform the same feat at the end. Does the game thereby explore the question of whether free will and morality can exist in a deterministic world? Or does it perhaps negate the notion that what we do matters, since the particulars of the end are inevitable? And if the narrator’s voice (the voice of moral conscience?) relates the same story, just with an angrier tone if you eradicated the Little Sisters, what does that say about the locus of moral agency?

[added later: While setting up my coffee machine just now, it occurred to me that perhaps the way to make a true philosophically and morally sophisticated videogame would be either: (1) to create a variety of endings that reflect the complexity of the moral choices made over the entire course of gameplay or, since that would still be highly deterministic, (2) to hire a philosopher like Daniel to devise a sophisticated and cool moral-philosophical algorithm that dynamically generates an outcome based on some set of moral attributes of gameplay. Then the game really does become a play-object, and also possibly a literary one that merits repeated readings.]

Since I haven't played BioShock, I really can't comment on how these questions would be answered by the particulars. If I had time, I'd love to get my Structuralist hooks into that game. Have any of you played it?

By the way, I'm sure Jim would love it if some you jumped in on the commentary beneath his post.

Polygamist Ranch in Texas

Posted by hmarvin on Mon, 04/07/2008 - 17:00

In a remote compound, in Elderado Texas, there exists the Yearning for Zion Ranch of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (a breakaway Mormon sect).

There was an article about children being removed from the compound and it struck me that as a marginalize group of self insolutating fundamentals facing government pressures that others in our class might find the article as interesting as I do.


Leveraged Planet

Posted by dblondell on Thu, 04/03/2008 - 23:21

Two economically apocalyptic items from the NYTimes.  The first is from yesterday, April 2, a story called "Leveraged Planet" about how the global market almost came crashing down two weeks ago with the fall of Bear Stearns, and how a global economic catastrophy is all but inevitable.  Notice the image of a precariously balanced globe:


The second is from today, April 3, reporting that 81% of Americans feel "things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track."  "Americans are more dissatisfied with the country’s direction than at any time since the New York Times/CBS News poll began asking about the subject in the early 1990s, according to the latest poll."  I suspect Americans may have been less satisfied during the Civil War, but that was a couple of years before the polling began, so we can only speculate:


In looking for the "Leveraged Planet" article, I tried to search "global" in the Times Business section.  That turned out to be a bad strategy as "global" appeared in 20 of the stories in today's Business section.  I'm not sure how many stories the Times ran in Business today, but it can't have been many more than 20.  In light of the polls and reminders of the globalization and recession everywhere (http://scobleizer.com/2007/12/15/surviving-the-2008-recession/) it's easy to get caught up in the feeling that America is heading toward an economic apocalypse.


Apocalypse by Particle Accelerator

Posted by jdrouin on Sat, 03/29/2008 - 14:24

This article on a lawsuit to stop a particle accelerator from destroying the earth or the universe might be of interest:



Dr. Arkani-Hamed said concerning worries about the death of the Earth or universe, “Neither has any merit.” He pointed out that because of the dice-throwing nature of quantum physics, there was some probability of almost anything happening. There is some minuscule probability, he said, “the Large Hadron Collider might make dragons that might eat us up.”


Newt Gingrich Answers Your Questions

Posted by dblondell on Sat, 03/15/2008 - 00:25

Newt Gingrich had this to say in an interview on the NY Times "Freakanomics" blog (14 March 2008 - http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/14/newt-gingrich-answers-y...).

"What we face worldwide in the aftermath of 9/11 isn’t a conflict between different models of government; it’s a conflict between the civilized world — which respects the rights of men and women and includes people of all countries and all faiths, including Islam — and the irreconcilable wing of Islam, which is so totally at odds with the civilized world’s views of the rights of the individual that there is no way to reconcile the two world views. Conflict is unavoidable."

The article is a good read, apocalyptic tendencies notwithstanding.  Worth noting: Gingrich's new book is titled Real Change: From the World that Fails to the World that Works.

This struck me as apocalyptic

Posted by hmarvin on Sun, 03/09/2008 - 23:59

This song and video struck me as apocalyptic.  The video reminded me of the numerology of the 144,000 to be let into heaven with the way they did the duplication of people in some scenes.  It also keeps going back four women who probably are not represenative of the four horsemen though the notion amuses me.  The words Destination Unknown come at the "climax" of the repeated musical phrases.  I believe "Destination Unknown" could be a reference to Heaven or the Afterlife or the New World Order to come.  I am also reminded in the video of the notion of heaven as an orgasm, and of virgins in heaven, though I doubt that these women are supposed to be presented as virginal.  Then again their costuming is a take on marching band outfits so I suppose it could be a part of the subtext.


Artist: Gaudino
Title: Destination Unknown

I left my job, my boss, my car and my home
I'm leaving for a destination I still don't know
somewhere nobody must have duties at home
And if you like this, you can follow me
So let's go

Follow me
And let's go
To the place where we belong
and leave our troubles at home
Come with me
We can go
To a paradise of love and joy
A destination unknown

Now I won't feel those heavy duties no more
My life gets better now I finally enjoy
Yes all the people wanna come here and so
Come on and join us you can do that now
Let's go

Follow me
And let's go
To the place where we belong
and leave our troubles at home
Come with me
We can go
To a paradise of love and joy
A destination unknown

We left the city, the pollution, the crowd
The air is clear, the ocean's blue, I love that sound
we're happy for this destination we found
And if you want this, you can follow me
Let's go

Follow me
And let's go
To the place where we belong
and leave our troubles at home
Come with me
We can go
To a paradise of love and joy
A destination unknown


* Warning * This video is risqué

The End of August at the Hotel Ozone

Posted by hmarvin on Tue, 03/04/2008 - 04:41

I have been re-examinging some of the notions of this film in my head since having watched it nearly a week ago.

I realize more and more some of what truely irked me about this film.  One of the biggest things I objected to is the lack of close friendish, familial, or sexual contact between the girls.  The women were not human in this tale, hey were cold and distant and inhuman like animals.  One simple way to explain why the women behaved the way they did in this film is to say that with out men, those women could never be fully human.  You can be charitable and also say men also aren't fully human with out women.

Jerusalem & British Israelism

Posted by hmarvin on Thu, 02/28/2008 - 14:31

I was suprised by the notion of Anglo / British Israelism.  I hadn't heard of it before this class.  Though I am most used to the presentation of Jesus as a pasty white dude.  I was discussing it with my room mate and he brought to my attention a song called "Jerusalem"


here are the lyrics

And did those feet in ancient time
walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
on England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant Land.


I have two mp3s of the song, and if anyone wants me to I could send them to you.  lena.marvin@gmail.com


Also, technical question, this post is reposted from the forum because it's formating was ugly there.

Think about this for class tomorrow

Posted by lquinby on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 20:01
In class tomorrow, might you fill in some of the gaps in this article by similarly rejecting the conspiracy theories while using Kirsch to fill in the historical rationale for these symbols? 

Historians Unlock U.S. Seal's Secrets

Posted: 2008-02-12 12:12:53
Filed Under: Nation News
WASHINGTON (Feb. 11) - Conspiracy theorists take note: The myths surrounding one of America's oldest and most enduring national symbols are about to be debunked ... if you believe the government, that is.


Photo Gallery


U.S. State Department / AP


Mysteries Behind
The Great Seal

1 of 4    

This is the back side of the Great Seal of the United States. Its symbols have long fueled speculation that the nation's founders used them to transmit secrets -- that Freemasons run the nation, or that 13 families hold power over America, for example. A new State Department exhibit is taking aim at such myths.




Great Seal: Fact and Fiction

Myth: The design signifies the U.S. is run by Freemasons or some sort of cult.
Fact: The seal uses several Masonic symbols, including the unfinished pyramid, but the symbols aren't exclusive to the Freemasons.

Myth: Repeated references to the number 13 -- including the steps in the pyramid -- represent the power of 13 American families.
Fact: Thirteen is used as a reference to the nation's original 13 colonies.

Myth: The Seal draws on Satanism or other rituals to promote a world run by a single government.
Fact: The words "Annuit Coeptis" ("Providence favors") and the eye of providence over the pyramid refer to twists of fate that helped bring about the birth of the United States.

Source: AP

From the State Department:

The Seal's Creation and Meaning
(PDF format)


The keepers of the Great Seal of the United States, the familiar emblem on the back of the $1 bill, want you to know what it is not. It is not a sign that Freemasons run the country, it has nothing to do with the occult, and it does not contain clues to a fabulous hidden treasure.

It is rather the nation's stamp of authority, sovereignty and power, gracing our cash and embossing the most important of documents from its home at the State Department, which has held it since the days of Thomas Jefferson, the first secretary of state.

Not that the Seal's symbols - the all-seeing eye, the unfinished pyramid, the Latin phrases, the bald eagle clutching an olive branch and arrows and the number 13 - aren't powerful.

They are, historians say. Yet their meanings have been misidentified, misunderstood and misrepresented almost since the Continental Congress first commissioned the Seal in 1776.

It would be another six years before the original design was approved and another 128 before it evolved into its current form. Along the way, a movement to decipher the Seal's meaning with ancient Egyptian, mystical and otherwise other worldly explanations has gained currency.

The Internet age has seen an explosion in such conspiracy theories, many which have now been ingrained in public consciousness through the popular "National Treasure" movie franchise that serves up a combination of Masonic lore and historical myths in blockbuster Hollywood fashion.

Among them:

· That the Seal proves the domination of the United States by a powerful, quasi-religious cult. The Ancient Scottish Rite of Freemasonry is a perennial favorite of conspiracy theorists as some Founding Fathers were Masons and the Seal uses several Masonic symbols.

· That the Seal draws on Satanism or polytheistic ritual to promote a universal new world order under which Earth would be ruled by a single omnipotent government.

· That repeated references to 13 - the number of steps in the unfinished pyramid, stars in the constellation over the eagle's head, arrows in the eagle's claw, stripes on the eagle's shield, letters in the phrase "Annuit Coeptis" - demonstrate the power of 13 American families.

· That there are two seals: one in which the eagle's head faces the arrows for times of war and another in which the eagle's head faces the olive branch for times of peace.

All rubbish, according to historians, who say the Seal's symbolism is far less ominous or revelatory than many believe.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Seal's current custodian, will inaugurate a new exhibition to commemorate its 225th birthday and trace the history and evolution of the symbolism.

The Seal will remain at the State Department but the interactive exhibit is designed to travel and curators hope it will dispel the rumors and educate Americans about the real meaning of the symbols.

Among the highlights:

· That known Masons like the first U.S. president, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin had no role in designing the final seal, which uses elements of traditional heraldry, such as the unfinished pyramid to symbolize a work in progress, arrows for war and an olive branch for peace. Masons share some of those symbols, but they have never been exclusively the domain of the order.

· That the phrase "Novus Ordo Seculorum" below the Roman numerals for 1776 at the base of the pyramid translates as "A New Order of the Ages" that began with independence and does not imply the United States will be the lynchpin of a sinister "New World Order."

· That the words "Annuit Coeptis" ("Providence favors") and the eye of providence that hovers over the pyramid refer to unexpected interventions of fate that assisted the colonists in creating a new country.

· That the references to 13 refer to the number of colonies that formed the original United States.

"People are just not aware of the complexity and intent of the symbolism and what our Founding Fathers were trying to do with it," said Priscilla Linn, senior curator at the U.S. Diplomacy Center. "The hidden treasure in the Seal is the courage and presence of mind of the people who created it and created these values for the whole country."


Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2008-02-12 09:31:12