So…where can I get a copy of “Revolve”?

Jason brings to my attention an eye-opening article on the bible-publishing business:

The popularization of the Bible entered a new phase in 2003, when Thomas Nelson created the BibleZine. Wayne Hastings described a meeting in which a young editor, who had conducted numerous focus groups and online surveys, presented the idea. “She brought in a variety of teen-girl magazines and threw them out on the table,” he recalled. “And then she threw a black bonded-leather Bible on the table and said, ‘Which would you rather read if you were sixteen years old?’ ” The result was “Revolve,” a New Testament that looked indistinguishable from a glossy girls’ magazine. The 2007 edition features cover lines like “Guys Speak Their Minds” and “Do U Rush to Crush?” Inside, the Gospels are surrounded by quizzes, photos of beaming teen-agers, and sidebars offering Bible-themed beauty secrets:

Have you ever had a white stain appear underneath the arms of your favorite dark blouse? Don’t freak out. You can quickly give deodorant spots the boot. Just grab a spare toothbrush, dampen with a little water and liquid soap, and gently scrub until the stain fades away. As you wash away the stain, praise God for cleansing us from all the wrong things we have done. (1 John 1:9)

“Revolve” was immediately popular with teen-agers. “They weren’t embarrassed anymore,” Hastings said. “They could carry it around school, and nobody was going to ask them what in the world it is.” Nelson quickly followed up with other titles, including “Refuel,” for boys; “Blossom,” for tweens; “Real,” for the “vibrant urban crowd” (it comes bundled with a CD of Christian rap); and “Divine Health,” which has notes by the author of the best-selling diet book “What Would Jesus Eat?” To date, Nelson has sold well over a million BibleZines.

Of course, my first concern is: are these books theologically sound? Do they treat the philosophy of religion with the seriousness that is its due? My next thought was to wonder how to counter this kind of glib cultural programming, and I suspect the only appropriate response would be a lengthy, in-depth, scholarly dissection of Anselm’s work, or perhaps an exegesis on the ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas. That’ll wake people up to the silliness being peddled to their children.

All the criticisms of Dawkins and Harris need to be inverted—it’s not that they are insufficiently schooled in theology, it’s that they’re just too freakin’ high-minded and serious, and they’re addressing on an intellectual level a bunch of ideas that are transmitted in the same way that fashion labels get traction.

Superclades of the Cambrian

Allow me to introduce you to a whole gigantic superclade with which many of you may not be familiar, and some other groups in the grand hierarchy of animal evolution that I’ve mentioned quite a few times before, but would like to clear the fog with some simple definitions. Consider this a brief primer in some major animal groupings. Here’s a greatly simplified cladogram; I’ve left off quite a few groups to make the story simple.


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I should use parables more often

They seem to sneak past the alarms that my bluntness usually sets off. Mike Dunford has a nice quote from that subversive radical, Terry Pratchett:

“Look at it this way, then,” she said, and took a deep mental breath. “Wherever people are obtuse and absurd . . . and wherever they have, by even the most generous standards, the attention span of a small chicken in a hurricane and the investigative ability of a one-legged cockroach . . . and wherever people are inanely credulous, pathetically attached to the certainties of the nursery and, in general, have as much grasp of the realities of the physical universe as an oyster has of mountaineering . . . yes, Twyla: there is a Hogfather.”

(For those not familiar with the backstory, the Hogfather is the Santa Claus equivalent in his fantasy stories.)

No regrets like Christmas regrets

I come from good lower middle class family with a healthy respect for education. Most of my relatives from the generation prior to mine had rarely finished high school, let alone gone on to college, but they weren’t stupid people, oh, no — we were regularly told that a good education was a path to a better life, and all had a lively interest in the world around them. My parents both liked to read and were creative, alert people, but I will admit that the combination of unschooled intelligence and an omnivorous curiousity unhampered by academic conventions meant that the reading material around the house was eclectic, to say the least. I’ve explained before that I had easy access to lots of weird literature, and I read just about everything I could find.

That’s the prelude so you can understand how I found myself in the uncharacteristic situation I describe below, over 30 years ago when I was but a skinny nerd in high school, and how I could be so stupid as to hurt someone I cared about.

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Not my prayer, that’s for sure

I’m not the praying kind, but this example I found on Greg Laden’s blog strikes me as rather familiar. I do believe I’ve heard the sentiments from a great many apologetic quarters before.

A Prayer to the Faith Based

I’m sorry, and I don’t mean to offend you,
And you didn’t even ask for this but
I’m going to put in a plug for your beliefs
So that you won’t get too mad at me as I utter words
With which you or someone you know may not agree,
(No matter how utterly wrong you may happen to be)

It is good that you are religious
And I will personally defend your right to believe
Whatever it is you do in fact believe,
And I affirm that it is OK to put
Phrases regarding your beliefs on my money
And for you to assume that
I will swear to your god

when I am on jury duty
when I am drafted into the army
when I am elected to office
when I am in the witness stand
and whenever else I must affirm
that I am moral and will not lie.

i Will Capitalize Your Word for God
And the Name of Your Holy Book
And Other Entities and Documents
As You Dictate These Rules To me.

I offer this pandering to your particular beliefs,
regardless of what they may happen to be,
despite the fact that your cultural ancestors,
the mavens and leaders of one church or another,
burned at the stake or otherwise humiliated mine,
The early scientists and freethinkers,
I affirm this because I cannot at the moment
Remember where I put my spine.


Hey, it made me snort out loud. I think it represents well the attitude the theistic evolutionists want us ferocious militant types to take.

Luskin deplores the FSM

Oh, man, we’re in trouble now—they’re catching on. Casey Luskin wags his finger at the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and you know that when the sharpest tool (a phrase intending a variety of meanings) in the ID creationist toolbox notices the obvious, we can expect…we can expect…well, we can’t expect much, but we do get lots of gassy blitherings.

He makes much of the fact that he knows the FSM is supposed to be a joke (a joke that, personally, I think is getting well past its sell-by date), but he clucks primly at the fact that all these “Darwinist academics” are finding the joke humorous…yet the FSM “Mocks Judeo-Christian Religion”!

While much of this is witty and fun, these comments reveal an underlying anti-religious mindset by these Darwinist academics who “endorse” FSM in a tone which mocks traditional Judeo-Christian religion.

Some theistic scientists still manage to find the Spaghetti Monster amusing, though; I suspect it’s because most of the sarcasm is directed specifically at the Intelligent Design nonsense, and the irreligiousness is merely an incidental by-blow of the fact that religiosity is at the heart of ID. But still, that’s awfully perspicacious of the usually thick-skulled Luskin—he noticed that a lot of scientists do think it’s perfectly acceptable to laugh at religion.

It’s a positive development. It’s OK to kick Intelligent Design creationism, and we can see that it’s religiously motivated, which makes it more acceptable to laugh at religion, which is exactly what we godless scientists want. Thanks, Discovery Institute!

The creationist billboards of Minnesota make the news again

Greg Laden has the story. It’s really not much of a story, but it’s local, so we care—basically, a crazy Jesus lady is buying prime billboard space around the area to flaunt her opinion that evolution is bunk, and newspapers are writing about it. It’s content-free noise, and we can only hope that all of our creationist opponents continue to be this shallow and stupid (and what do you know—they are!), but still, shallow and stupid seems to draw in the fan base. The article does mention some of her sponsors: if you’re planning on having a home built in the Duluth area, scratch Legacy Custom Homes in Cloquet off your list of contractors.

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