Watch these videos

For those of my readers who are Christians, I post things like this to remind us all what it is we are struggling against in trying to define our faith for what we believe it to be and for what we believe it can be.

The videos you need to watch are over at Waking Up Now.

The End of LOST

*SPOILERS: All content which may be spoiling is placed below the jump.*

Well, LOST is over.  Finally.  I will never forget exam week at the end of freshman year, when I agreed reluctantly to watch the sixth episode of the first season when I should have been studying, and ended up watching the first two seasons in less than a week of exam cramming, sleepless watching sessions, and caffeine.  It was the best reluctant decision I’ve ever made.

There have been problems with LOST, at least from the perspective of someone trying to think about sexism and so forth.  The straight white men drive the primary shape of the plot.  There are no gay men or lesbians, not transsexuals.  The show made some great strides with presenting the perspectives of people of color, but those perspectives have often been limited by white-driven stereotypes; take, for instance, Eko the drug smuggler-turned-priest.  And, as my friend Sarah has noted, women in LOST are motivated by two things: men and babies.

The rest is below.

Continue reading

Chapter 3

The Passages of Beckamain

When Sasha the Builder was old, she would sometimes forget where she was, and for a moment become as the Momentor and stare into space and clutch her hammer to her chest.  Then we children would squirm and not know where to place our next nails and the Architon would come.  He would say to us, “A Builder knows the best place to build is not here, but in a world all your own, where you alone stand responsible.”  And then we would all hush, quiet; some were silenced by the Architon’s strangeness, others were impatient but respectful, others dreamed of dinnertime in a few hours.  None of us were wise.  If we were, we would have used the time before the Builder returned to fashion a hammer in our minds from the matter we were observing, and thus obtain the first tool.

–Kyria Navo, Semantor-Elect of Beckamain, Eulogies for the Dead of the 1030th Year of the Rule of Beckamain, “Sasha the Builder”

In later years, Sasha the Builder was appointed to become the Interlocutor, tasked with guiding each new penult through the stone walls that guarded Beckamain.  Within them were a maze of passages, yet one could not get lost; one always emerged from the other end, with or without a guide.  But a guide helped soothe the minds of those who passed through, and occasionally to offer a word of comfort as walls sprung up around those who entered those narrow passages.

Continue reading

Culture Goes All The Way Down

I read on Andrew Sullivan’s blog today this story by Paul Bloom.  Sullivan quotes the following snippet:

[O]ur initial moral sense appears to be biased toward our own kind. There’s plenty of research showing that babies have within-group preferences: 3-month-olds prefer the faces of the race that is most familiar to them to those of other races; 11-month-olds prefer individuals who share their own taste in food and expect these individuals to be nicer than those with different tastes; 12-month-olds prefer to learn from someone who speaks their own language over someone who speaks a foreign language. And studies with young children have found that once they are segregated into different groups — even under the most arbitrary of schemes, like wearing different colored T-shirts — they eagerly favor their own groups in their attitudes and their actions.


The aspect of morality that we truly marvel at — its generality and universality — is the product of culture, not of biology. There is no need to posit divine intervention. A fully developed morality is the product of cultural development, of the accumulation of rational insight and hard-earned innovations. The morality we start off with is primitive, not merely in the obvious sense that it’s incomplete, but in the deeper sense that when individuals and societies aspire toward an enlightened morality — one in which all beings capable of reason and suffering are on an equal footing, where all people are equal — they are fighting with what children have from the get-go.

This presents a few problems, however, that the author doesn’t seem to dwell on nearly enough.

Continue reading