Sunday Sermon: On Secret Diplomacy

Elsewhere I have implied that the US, UK, Russia, and China are (to some degree or another) oligarchies masquerading as democracies. They probably could be ordered on a scale from greater to lesser – but that’s a debate for another day. Today, we’re going to consider some of Spinoza’s Tractatus Theologico-Politicus as reported by Will Durant in Story of Philosophy. [amazon]

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See This Movie (Movie Review: Threads)

Warning: War, Death

Administrative note: I made an error attributing the movie and confused a different movie with a release of the same film under a different name. Explanation is [here] – in order to reduce confusion, I have done an edit-pass. If you see comments about how I am talking about the wrong movie, they are correct with respect to the initial version of this posting. Sorry about the confusion!

I don’t know if I have the necessary skill to convey how upsetting this topic is. I wish I could borrow the skills of Orpheus from somewhere, and get other people to watch it, get angry and scared, and – do something. I don’t even know what we can do, trapped as we are in the reality of nationalism and out-of-control militarism.

Threads is about the horrible deaths our political leaders have prepared for us.

If you don’t like spoilers, don’t read any further. But there’s really nothing to spoil. You already know roughly what happens.

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Sunday Sermon: Asceticism

When someone says “Epicurean” what comes to mind? Usually, it’s hedonism – life spent in the pursuit of pleasure. If we were raised in a christian tradition, we might even hear “Epicurean” as slightly louche or sexually promiscuous. Epicureans, many of us think, are the sort who wear velvet smoking jackets and snort cocaine off the upturned buttocks of prostitutes.

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Sunday Sermon: Balancing Acts

“That’s not fair!”

We seem to be on the fence about fairness: we want some things to be fair but not at our expense; suddenly it’s unfair to be taxed to support something we don’t agree with, when we would have happily paid the same taxes to support something we do like. I instantly spiral down into linguistic nihilism when I try to think through “what is ‘fair’?” in most cases, because all that I seem to be encountering is other people’s strongly-held opinions. But if we’re going to re-balance society, or decide who gets which slice of cake, we have to have a way of talking about what is fair.

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