I Samuel 15:2-3


2 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.

3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

See other: Often Ignored Bible Verses

Mussolini’s Rituals


‘Mussolini thought the Italians needed to be hardened, and he launched what he called an anti-bourgeois campaign. And among the things he banned, or tried to ban, anyway, was people shouldn’t shake hands, they should give the Roman salute, you know, raising their arm and their hand up in the air. […]

[A] man named Achille Starace, was kind of his circus master, who kept coming up with these ideas of rituals, mass rituals and other kinds of rites that he thought would make the Italians ever more devoted to their duce, which is the kind of Latiny term of leader that the Italians used to refer to Mussolini.

In fact, Mussolini required being referred to as DUCE, D-U-C-E,[1] it’s spelled, and it had to be written in capitals in the newspapers by the 1930s. It couldn’t just be written in the normal way.’

– Kertzer, D. (April 24, 2015) ‘Pope And Mussolini’ Tells The ‘Secret History’ Of Fascism And The Church. NPR.


[1] duce; ‘leader’ from Latin duco, meaning ‘I lead’. E.g. Il DUCE ha sempre ragione; ‘the leader is always right’.

Los Caprichos No. 43


The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters is an etching by the Spanish painter and printmaker Francisco Goya. Created between 1797 and 1799, it is the 43rd of 80 etchings making up the suite of satires Los Caprichos.

The full epigraph for capricho No. 43 reads:

“Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with her (reason) , she (fantasy) is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels.”

Dazzle Ships


Dazzle camouflage was a military camouflage paint scheme used on ships, extensively during World War I and to a lesser extent in World War II.

After the Allied Navies failed to develop effective means to disguise ships in all weathers, the dazzle technique was employed. At first glance, this was an unlikely form of camouflage, as ships were painted with zebra-like black, grey and white stripes.

This type of camouflage was used, not to conceal the ship, but rather to make it difficult for the enemy to estimate its type, size, speed and direction of travel. Also, each ship’s dazzle pattern was unique to avoid making classes of ships instantly recognisable to the enemy.

After seeing a canon painted in dazzle camouflage trundling through the streets of Paris, Pablo Picasso is reported to have taken credit for the innovation which seemed to him a quintessentially Cubist technique.

Conversations: Dogmas Run Amok


Galene
I once heard someone say that Stalin was an atheist. They did not say much else, but I understood their statement to be critical of atheism, suggesting there must be some relation between atheism and totalitarian cruelties.

Sappho
This is a silly stab at trying to reach some sort of moral high ground; it is commonly employed by the more orthodox and fundamentalist theist.

Helena
Throughout history, totalitarian regimes have either embraced a religion, or rejected all existing religions and replaced it with a new one; the problem with totalitarian regimes is they behave too much like religions – they embrace utterly dogmatic systems of thought to validate the regime’s claim to power.

Galene
That seems a little strong. Continue reading

Judeo-Christian Marriages


Man + Woman “Nuclear Family” (Genesis 2:24)

  • Wives subordinate to their husbands.
  • Interfaith marriages forbidden.
  • Marriages generally arranged, not based on romantic love.
  • Bride who could not prove her virginity was stoned to death.

Man + Woman + Woman’s Property (Genesis 16)

  • Man could acquire his wife’s property including her slaves.

Man + Brother’s Widow “Levirate Marriage” (Genesis 38: 6-10)

  • Widow who had not borne a son required to marry her brother in law.
  • Must submit sexually to her new husband.

Male Slave + Female Slave (Exodus 21:4)

  • Slave owner could assign female slaves to his male slaves.
  • Female slaves must submit sexually to their new husbands.

Male Soldier + Prisoner of War (Deuteronomy 21:11-14) & (Number 31:1-18)

  • Under Moses’ command, Israelites kill every Midianite man, woman child; save for the virgin girls who are taken as spoils of war.
  • Wives must submit sexually to their new owners.

Rapist + His Victim (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)

  • Virgin who is raped must marry her rapist.
  • Rapist must pay victim’s father 50 shekels of silver for property loss.

Conversations: Civilization


Helena
It is important to realize that the distinction between science and religion is not a matter of excluding our ethical intuitions and spiritual experiences from our conversation about the world; it is a matter of our being honest about what we can reasonably conclude on their basis.

Xanthippe
However, there are good reasons to believe that people like Jesus and the Buddha weren’t talking nonsense when they spoke about our capacity as human beings to transform our lives in rare and beautiful ways.

Sappho
But any genuine exploration of ethics or the contemplative life demands the same standards of reasonableness and self-criticism that animate all intellectual discourse. Continue reading

Conversations: The Preposterous


Helena
Clearly, it is time we all learned to meet our emotional needs without embracing the preposterous. We must find ways to invoke the power of ritual and to mark those transitions in every human life that demand profundity—birth, marriage, death—without lying to ourselves about the nature of reality.

Galene
What does that mean in practice?

Sappho
I feel we should recognise that, for instance, the practice of raising children to believe that they are Christian, Muslim, or Jewish should be recognised as the ludicrous obscenity that it is. And only then will we stand a chance of healing the deepest and most dangerous fractures in our world.

Galene
That’s all very well and good, but I have no doubt that the acceptance—so to speak—of Christ coincided with some very positive changes in some people’s lives. Perhaps they now love other people in a way that they never imagined possible. They may even experience feelings of bliss while praying—say. Continue reading