Monthly Archives: June 2014

100 days – Day 60: Summer Solstice

100 DAYS

100 days – Day 60: The Longest Day

preparing for the Summer Solstice with Spinal Tap

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Today marks the summer solstice, marking the beginning of summer.

Saturday, 21 June, is the longest day of the year and is universally celebrated – as, in ancient times, solstices and equinoxes were a guide to understanding the passing of the Seasons.  

The solstice and midsummer period was usually celebrated by Pagans commemorating the fertility of the season.  However,  its associations with life and nature are now celebrated by many and varied contemporary cultures.

Every year, thousands of revellers flock to Stonehenge in Wiltshire and UNESCO World Heritage Site, to celebrate.

stonehenge

Many summer solstice traditions include bonfires, originally a pagan custom, although it has been adopted by Christian denominations to celebrate Saint John’s Day. In Greece, men leap over the flames, while in Bulgaria, a barefoot dance on hot embers called Nestinarstvo is performed.

Many…

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Gandhi and the Professor

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Sadly, this seems to be an “urban legend”, but it does illustrate the wilyness and wisdom of a great man – even at an early age:

When Gandhi was studying law at the University College of London, a white professor, whose last name was Peters, disliked him intensely and always displayed prejudice and animosity towards him. Also, because Gandhi never lowered his head when addressing him, as he expected…. there were always “arguments” and confrontations.

One day, Mr Peters was having lunch at the dining room of the University, and Gandhi came along with his tray and sat next to the professor. The professor said, “Mr Gandhi, you do not understand. A pig and a bird do not sit together to eat.”
Gandhi looked at him as a parent would a rude child and calmly replied, “You do not worry professor. I’ll fly away,” and he went and sat at another table.

Mr Peters, reddened with rage, decided to take revenge on the next test paper, but Gandhi responded brilliantly to all questions. Mr Peters, unhappy and frustrated, asked him the following question. “Mr Gandhi, if you were walking down the street and found a package, and within was a bag of wisdom and another bag with a lot of money, which one would you take?”

Without hesitating, Gandhi responded, “The one with the money, of course.”

Mr Peters, smiling sarcastically said, “I, in your place, would have taken the wisdom, don’t you think?”

Gandhi shrugged indifferently and responded, “Each one takes what he doesn’t have.”

Mr Peters, by this time, was fit to be tied. So great was his anger that he wrote on Gandhi’s exam sheet the word “idiot” and gave it to Gandhi. Gandhi took the exam sheet and sat down at his desk trying very hard to remain calm while he contemplated his next move.

A few minutes later, Gandhi got up, went to the professor and said to him in a dignified but sarcastically polite tone, “Mr Peters, you signed the sheet, but you did not give me the grade.”

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Heaven

A minister who was very focused on his work, especially through his membership of and involvement in Church practice and procedure committees, and who had a deep loathing for all things “frivolous”, was left totally cold with the wall-to-wall coverage of the World Cup in the media.

“Dear Lord, I hope and pray that there is no football in Heaven”, he mutterered to himself one evening, prior to retiring for the night.

Suddenly, he heard a still, small voice – the voice of the Almighty!

God said, “Fear not, my son and my beloved and faithful servant; there is no football in Heaven”

“Father, my loving Father, I praise your Holy Name, and I thank you for this.”

Then God said, “My son – you will be well pleased with this: there is a mega-Presbytery in Heaven, the largest that the human mind can envisage”

“My Lord and my God, this is wonderful”

“Yes, my son,” replied the Almighty, “And I bring you good tidings of great joy – you are to be appointed Presbytery Clerk there next Monday at 7.00 pm GMT”

 

 

 

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June 20, 2014 · 00:00

Water

I remembered this yesterday, after 40+ years!

Students for the Ministry are under the supervision of the Presbytery within whose bounds they live.

At some point, near the end of their academic course, they are interviewed by a committee of presbyters – on a variety of aspects of Church matters.

At my meeting with the wise men of Dumbarton Presbytery, I was asked at one point by the Convener of this education committee about the Sacraments.

He asked – straightforwardly – “What is the element used in Baptism?” To which the answer – obviously – is “water”

Then the daft follow up: “What would the ‘Desert Fathers’ have done then?”

My reply: “I’m sure they would have found an obvious way to extemporise”.  Think about it!  Then added, “I don’t think that they were members of the Kirk anyhow!”

This humourless Rev didn’t say anything, but I think that I may have been on the cusp of being asked to “get my coat” (or – in ecclesiastical terms to p*** off; as opposed to the ‘Desert Fathers’ p***ing on)

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Chris Bambrough cartoon

Chris Bamrough

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June 19, 2014 · 08:26

Creationism

from Huff Post:

Paxo, the great tormentor, has faced down some formidable opponents during his tenure as Newsnight’s chief interrogator. John Lewis from Christian Education Europe is not likely to go down as one of them.

Appearing on Monday on a segment on creationism being taught in schools, the somewhat baffled apologist found himself toyed with then dismissed by the Newsnight stalwart, particularly after Lewis tried to imply some bias in the BBC video suggesting a lack of education for those that believe in Adam and Eve.

Professor Alice Roberts, President of the Association of Science Education, argued on the side of sanity reason. Watch Paxo’s exasperation when Lewis refuses to answer how long it took God to make the world.

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June 17, 2014 · 11:13

The Witches of Swaziland

The Witches of Swaziland

Swaziland has launched a crackdown on high-flying witches after banning them from hovering above 150metres.

It has been a long time since witches were burnt at the stake in Europe but the accusation remains a serious one in the landlocked African country.

PAnyone caught flying their broomstick above the height limit faces arrest and a hefty R500,000 fine, the country’s civil aviation authorities said this week.

‘A witch on a broomstick should not fly above the [150-metre] limit,’ corporate affairs director Sabelo Dlamini told The Star.

The new aviation law was highlighted after a private investigator was caught flying a helicopter equipped with a video camera to gather surveillance information.

Witchcraft is taken seriously in Swaziland where many people believe in the power of black magic.

Last year a leading Swazi MP called for a hike in tax paid by witch doctors to help ease the cash-strapped country’s financial woes.

From the Metro newspaper

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June 17, 2014 · 08:25

via Slate.com

Americans Will Tolerate a Variety of In-Laws. One Exception: Atheists.

By Amanda Marcotte

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Believers only, please.
Photo by wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

A new study from the Pew Research Center shows that political polarization in the United States has reached levels only seen during the Civil War, but when it comes to our own families, we’re not quite as divided. One of the questions Pew asks to gauge how seriously people are taking their identity politics these days is how upset would you be if an immediate family member—say, a child or a sibling—married someone outside of your identity parameters. The good news: Americans are okay with their family members marrying someone who isn’t in their “tribe.”

There are all different kinds of tribes, of course. When it came, for instance, to the question of how you’d feel if your family member married someone with a different party affiliation, the vast majority of Americans responded that they’d feel either “happy” or that it “doesn’t matter.” Even for strict partisans, this was mostly true. Strong conservatives approved of a family member marrying a Democrat 70 percent of the time and strong liberals approved of marrying a Republican 78 percent of the time. Similar numbers turned up for identity markers like “gun ownership” or “went to college,” with most people being indifferent to these factors when it comes to bringing new people to family holiday dinners.

Other good news is that opposition to interracial marriage, at least overt opposition, is also fairly low, with only 11 percent of Americans balking at the idea of a new family member of a different race. (How likely you are to bothered by racial mixing rose with levels of conservatism, with only one percent of strong liberals opposing interracial marriage and 23 percent of strong conservatives doing so.) And Americans are even more welcoming to foreigners, with only 7 percent of respondents opposing marriage to someone born and raised outside of the U.S.

There’s one group, however, that continues to cause fear and loathing across the land: atheists. From Pew:

 

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Pew Research Center

Though Pew does not dig into this, the anomalous hostility to atheists above pretty much all other groups likely speaks more to ignorance than hatefulness. Most non-believers don’t really talk about it much in their day-to-day life, because why would you? That means that most believers may think, probably incorrectly, that they don’t know any atheists, which makes it easier for ugly stereotypes to fill in the blanks. Perhaps the growing movement of visible atheists will help erode some of the fearful ignorance and provide a few families with a path out of grace before Thanksgiving dinner. All the atheists I know are all for digging right into the food.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today.

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June 16, 2014 · 22:35

The people who lack vistaprint perish

The people who lack vistaprint perish

via Jared Hay

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June 16, 2014 · 22:26

Chav Prayer

Chav Prayer

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June 16, 2014 · 22:23