Wednesday, 31 May 2017

A Time Of Legends

(St Paul and the philosophers. Dig it. That is where I would be.)

SM Stirling, The Scourge Of God (New York, 2009), Chapter One.

Catholics and Wiccans find that they are living in a time of legends and do not like it.

"'But even Our Lord was refused when he asked that the cup pass from him.'" (p. 46)

This I do not get. What happened in antiquity?

(i) Pagans sacrificed animals to many gods.
(ii) Jews sacrificed animals to one God.
(iii) Jesus' followers believed that he was the Messiah who would lead them to victory...
(iv) ...but were traumatized by his execution as a criminal - conclusive proof that he was not the Messiah.
(v) Therefore, they reinterpreted scriptures as prophesying that the Messiah must suffer, then rise.
(vi) Paul interpreted the Crucifixion as a perfect sacrifice ending sin, the Law and every other sacrifice.
(vii) Pauline Christianity fitted the Roman Empire which wanted monotheism without divisive dietary laws or repeated animal sacrifices.
(viii) But do we now believe in the efficacy of sacrifice?

I do not understand how this belief can make sense now. Of course, if someone believes that the Resurrection happened, then they have to believe that the Crucifixion also happened and has some significance but what? I do not buy:

all have sinned;
therefore, all have deserved to suffer and die;
but Jesus took it all on himself;
but, being perfect, could not stay dead;

CS Lewis' soft sf assumes the truth of Christianity. Poul Anderson's and SM Stirling's Christian characters discuss their beliefs. Christianity remains widespread in the real world. So it merits discussion.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017


Zazen is:

"Neither trying to think nor trying not to think;
"Just sitting with no deliberate thought."

I have been trying not to think. Zazen is just sitting with awareness and natural thought. How do we remain alert and prevent abstraction?

I have also been trying to be aware of each natural thought as it arises. However:

to think about x is to attend to x;
to be aware of a thought is to attend to the thought;
thus, I have been trying to attend to the attention to x.

I can become aware that I have been attending to x but, at the moment when the natural thought arises, I am attending only to x. Zazen is becoming aware.