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October 31st, 2010 06:22 pm - Sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia
Ah. Of course I wore my voice out the day before Reformation Sunday, when we sing all the good old traditional hymns.

Anyway, to make me less depressed after listening to Pastor's Reformation Day sermon, which was all about the deeply disappointing way the ELCA is (slowly, politely, quietly) attempting to schism itself over the issue of same-sex partnerships (which our Churchwide Assembly decided they approved of last year), here is an embed of the video our Presiding Bishop posted as part of the It Gets Better project, which [personal profile] beatrice_otter linked to a few days ago:
Video + transcript )
And, wow, I'd never really thought about the fact that Lutheran pastors have a specifically recognizable style, but it is so very painfully obvious what denomination he's from even without the intro. Which is to say: it's not by any means a perfect statement, but I am *so proud* of my Bishop for deciding to join the project, especially given the way his Church is spasming over it right now, and the cultural Lutheran more that you avoid divisiveness at all cost.


...oh, is there another holiday on 31 October? Sorry, you know how tunnel-vision us Christians can get about other folks' holidays. :P

I have very specific tastes when it comes to horror, I have come to realize.

The horror I find nicely shivery brings in a few particular factors: the unseen monster and the unknown fate; the incomprehensible but malignant outsider sentience; and the shift of ordinary things and places into sudden objects of fear.

The first horror-y fiction I ever read that I actually both found scary and liked was the classic fantasy novel The Face In The Frost, by John Bellairs. It's a short novel which combines parody/humor, classic quest fantasy with evil wizards, and that sort of deep horror of the mundane and unknowable. It stars two wizards named Prospero (but not the one you're thinking of) and Roger Bacon (also not the one you're thinking of) as they try to stop Melichus (a old schoomate of Prospero's) from evoking a formless, all-encompassing alien evil out of a mysterious book.

The book was clearly inspired by the Voynich manuscript, a deeply creepy Medieval book full of drawings of cyborg women, strangely biological-looking circle diagrams, and alien plants, which is written in a mysterious script that has never been decrypted. Melichus' book from The Face in the Frost is very similar, but it is finally read - by Melichus - after he discovers that, when you study the book obsessively, sleeplessly, compulsively, staring only at the pages of the book until all the rest of the world seems unreal - suddenly it wavers into something readable. Something alive, strange, something that wobbles between not quite real and too real to exist, but readable.

I've always wanted to mock up some pages of the book, properly bespelled, and since I finally found my stylus, I drew them for All Hallows. Here it is, a two-page spread from Melichus's evil book:
a two-column layout that looks like it's from a medieval manuscript, with intricate and creepy drawings of plants, circle diagrams, and naked women in plumbing all around the margins. The text is in an alphabet that is strangely familiar, but not one you know.
And yes, if you figure out how to read it properly, it really does decrypt by itself, one slow letter at a time, alive and wavering but readable, like the evil book in the story: there is proper magic in it.

The plaintext I used was a nonsense poem from later in the book. The marginals are directly inspired by the Voynich manuscript - luckily the artist of the Voynich wasn't a particularly good draftsman either.

If you figure it out or try try and fail, let me know? I've never really tested this method on anyone else, so I'd love to know how well it works. Anybody posting a full decryption within the next few days gets their comment screened, but discussion of methods is strongly encouraged. :D

ETA: If you want to know how this encryption works, [personal profile] siegeofangels worked out the cheating decryption method, and I give the rest of it away in comments to her entry.

(24 comments | Reply)

March 28th, 2010 12:33 pm - Why do they still let me teach Sunday school?
Things I said to Mom's Sunday school class while last-minute substituting as teacher today:

1. So Jesus got, like, really pissed, and he totally trashed the whole place, dude. It was radical.

2. Why can't God be a girl if He wants to be? He can do anything; who says She's never a girl? (this got a cheer from the girls in the class, p.s.)

3. A fast overview of every Judas-apologia fanfic ever written for the Easter story, from the Acts of Pilate to the Gospel of Pilate, with a long digression about how by Easter the disciples were spending most of their time bickering like siblings who had been trapped in a car for too long.

Things I almost said, but stopped myself at the last minute:

1. Jesus hates teabaggers! (I didn't actually say that but I laid the groundwork. And I want a bumpers sticker now that says "God Hates Teabaggers: Matthew 22:21") I felt unexpectedly justified when Pastor decided to preach his sermon about how the Democrats in Congress are like Christ Triumphant riding into Jerusalem (let us strew roses at their feet) and the Republicans are just like the Pharisees and Sadduccees. :P

2. The reason they didn't listen was because it was women who saw them, because nobody ever listens to women, but remember that Christ spoke to girls first, before he spoke to the men; he believes we're the ones worth talking to first. (I almost said this but we were running out of time and I figured "God's a chick" was enough Christian radical feminism to start them with.)

3. Aslan is a fraud and Narnia sucks. (Didn't actually mention Lewis, but talked about *why* Aslan is a fraud. Also, didn't say "Jesus is more like a Time Lord than a Highlander," or compare "He will knock four times" to "before the cock crows thrice." Be proud of me.)

Let that stand as your warning: as today was Palm Sunday, and it's my very favorite Christian holiday, I plan to talk about Christianity, and specifically Holy Week and Easter, a lot for the next week. It will be in rather the same sort of tone as the above. If you'd rather not be exposed, filter or unsubscribe me; I won't be offended. It will be back to business-as-random-usual come Monday after next.

(48 comments | Reply)

October 24th, 2008 08:42 pm - Things which are amazingly awesome (pt 1)
So tommorow is our church's big fall rummage sale, so I came home today to help Mom set up and price, and in the big pile of STUFF THAT WAS DONATED was this:

It is not it great shape - some of the fabric is deteriorated and some of the dyes have run as they faded - but it is *old* - my conservative guess would be 1940s - and over five feet long, all hand-appliqued on heavy canvas - and did I mention it is made of pure awesome? (Possibly quite literally.)

All I know about it is that it belonged to the deceased husband of a friend of a woman who knows someone at our church.

Here's a close-up of Horus so you can see the stitchwork: link. (And a huge version of the whole thing: link)

Hey [journalfen.net profile] eleutheria, know anyone who needs a hanging for a Horus altar? :D

(I would like to at least figure out who the other two figures reresent - they're not anything I know offhand - and get a better idea of the age and origin - and maybe figure out how to attempt to properly conserve it. I've gotten ratty old quilts before, but they were all obviously used hard when they were new and intended for it, so I was fine with continuting to use them as ratty old textiles. This one, however, is *awesome*.)

(17 comments | Reply)

March 21st, 2008 01:53 pm - IN HONOR OF THE STRIKE
I give you a subtle visual metaphor for the relationship between corporate power and the common people, by which I mean a scan of
Archie Andrews getting butt-raped by Satan )

...I bet you thought I was kidding!

Ooh, have a bonus panel:
Jughead's nuts being groped )

These are both scans from "Archie's Clean Slate", today's trophy from the $.50 back-issue bins, which was published, under license, by Spire Christian Comics. An amazing comic, from the publisher possibly best-known these days for Hansi, the Girl who Loved the Swastika.

Interesting in several protest-related ways: first, because in the 21st century, Archie Comics is absolutely totalitarian about copyright (any fellow devotees of the gone-but-not-forgotten Improved Archie will want to note that in this comic, Betty is in fact a Crazy Christian). Second, because "Clean Slate" was attempting to appeal to hip young people in 1973, and it appears to be trying to position environmentalism as a Christian issue at the same time it's trying to convert people to Christianity, with the result that it does both very, very badly. (It also attempts to harness the power of SCIENCE, btw. I quote: "Copernicus cures celestial myopia!" "And Christ cures spiritual blindness!")

Also it features Jughead as an anthropomorphic kangaroo.

That is all.

Current Music:: william shatner - common people

(2 comments | Reply)

February 26th, 2008 11:12 pm - MY CHRISTIAN VAMPIRE STORY
..So when Anne Rice steals my idea, I can claim I got there first. Because this universe has been percolating in my head for years.

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more! The sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters! )

I mean, I do have an actual story to go with this - there are vampire prostitutes who hire themselves out to women who want their philandering husbands dead, there are ghouls and white horses and a Christian witch and a Romani sorcerer and blood-sucking undead watermelons and a vampire cult that's adopted the New Testament as *justifying* the blood-sucking life and the Mass of St. Secaire and rakish con-man werewolves and crossdressing clergy and pre-Marxist communism and stuff. But I always get to the point where I go "OMG, the historical research!" and give up.

I bet Anne Rice doesn't do any historical research.

Current Music:: Darling Violetta - Sanctuary

(2 comments | Reply)

October 30th, 2007 11:20 pm - NaNo blather!
So I've been using most of my spare brain cycles reading and thinking about NaNo. This is the level where I'm at: I have just realized that I have exactly *one* honest-to-god male character in this story. "Honest-to-God" being taken literally: I do have a couple gender-variant characters who would probably in modern culture identify as male, but in their milieu, when they get down on their knees in honesty, they identify either as female or thirdsex.

All the other developed male characters are either dead before the story starts or are killed soon after my character meets them. The only cisgender man who gets much of a speaking part spends most of his appearance in the story running errands for his girlfriend. ...That's kind of cool, considering that I didn't do it on purpose at all. And that I'm supposedly writing a patriarchal culture.

Anyway, I've been meaning to post more world-buildy stuff in the last month, but, um, not so much, and writing starts tomorrow! One thing I did get written up, rather than just marked in a library book, is my world's cosmology: Anyone writing in a fantasy world is writing in a world where the basic underlying principles are at least a bit different from ours, and I think it's important that the writer know what those principles are. My *characters* won't necessarily know, or they might have a lot of it wrong, and it may never come out in the story that they have it wrong, but I have to know what's possible, what's impossible, and what's absolutely necessary for the world to hang together.

It was especially tricky for this universe because I want it to be a world where the gods are present and magic works - but I also want to be able to use this world for alternate-history fantasy stories set anywhere from earliest prehistory all the way to near-future speculation. So I had to come up with a cosmology where Gods were present and magic works for *every* religion and belief system ever, from animism to m-theory, with minimal fudging necessary.

Um. Tricky. But I had a lot of other people's efforts to draw on, so here's what I've got, and I think it'll work for at least this story's world, with enough options left open to make it work for others, too: It starts with a bubble in the deeps. )

Tomorrow: Draw maps, work out language phoneme charts for naming, make last plot outline. Oh, and make a Halloween costume.

Current Music:: TCR
Current Mood:: [mood icon] pissed off

(1 comment | Reply)

January 21st, 2007 02:29 pm - Your meditation for the second Sunday after Epiphany
Today's New Testament Reading was 1 Corinthians chapter 12, Verses 12-31, NRSV: )

[Poll #911188]

Actually, last week's reading was the first part of that chapter, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, which is one of my favorite bits of the Epistles, because it can be read to justify the practice of magic and all sorts of other non-traditional spiritualities, as long as you do them in faith in Christ.

In other news, SNOOOOOW!!!!!

(6 comments | Reply)

November 21st, 2006 06:54 pm - great creator, still creating.
Somebody who parks near me has a bumper sticker of a dead Darwin fish with the caption "FISH DON'T WALK". Every time I walk by the car, I get closer and closer to give in to the temptation to vandalize it. I mean, political, religious, and ethical objections aside, it shows a remarkable lack of knowledge of the wonders of God's creation, because as far as I know, nobody's yet found any evidence that the Oxudercinae are some sort of mass delusion. If I could get my hands on a rotting dead Oxudercinae, I would totally leave it on the guy's windshield.

Of course, creationism in general shows a marked lack of appreciation for the wonders of Creation, which is one of my major problems with it.

Anyway, he also has a sticker of a Jesus fish eating a Darwin fish. I'm not sure why exactly the guy hates Darwin fish so much, but I'm even more tempted to print out a sticker that says "Christians for Cannibalism!" to stick under it. Because *that* is a cause I can totally get behind. Mom supplied the bread for Communion last Sunday, and since hardly anybody came, I've been eating the Flesh of Christ Jesus with every meal all week. It's *yummy*. :D

To completely change the topic, am I the only one who's noticed that the FSM bears an uncanny resemblence to the Horta? Truly superstition is a devil in the dark places of our minds.

Current Mood:: [mood icon] aggravated

(1 comment | Reply)

March 15th, 2006 09:46 pm - the inevitable abortion post
Monday night, both of my laptop's PCMCIA card slots stopped working, so until I get around to fixing that, I won't have 'net access on the laptop. I get to see how long I can last without being on lj every single waking hour!

The universally positive reaction to my last post surprised me. There are many things which would keep me from making headway in politics. My myriad personality flaws are one of them. My actual political positions are another. So I thought perhaps I'd elucidate one of them, as an example. Although it's probably not the best idea to post this when I won't be online full time to get comments, I will anyway, since my sister said I should.

Recent discussion about abortion rights on several fronts (and the fact that I'm apparently ovulating, since I've been dreaming I'm pregnant for the last few nights) has finally inspired to type up my own views on abortion. I warn you that a) this is insanely long and digressive, b) like my rant about gay marriage from several years ago, it is in the nature of a tertium quid, guaranteed to offend everybody regardless of their position on the subject, and c) it contains Bible slash.

Big Damn Abortion Post )

Current Mood:: [mood icon] cold
Current Music:: you breach the decorum of my courtroom with all this hooting

(22 comments | Reply)

March 2nd, 2006 09:36 pm - simply as sojourners
Did not do quite so well with the Lent thing today. The laptop didn't manage to stay closed quite the whole time; but I didn't read fic or lj at least! No, it was just that as the professor was droning on about the technical difference between drizzle and rain, I suddenly remembered a word I've been trying to think of for *months*: pogonip, the-fog-that-kills. And I had to google it right away to make sure it was correct, see. Other than that, I did pretty good.

Also for Lent, I am attempting to do the Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan which [livejournal.com profile] frey_at_last linked to, because I am *tremendously* underread when it comes to the fathers of the Church. As in, there are only a couple of authors on that list that I know *anything* about. (St. Athanasius gets credit for the Athanasian creed, and also put out the eyes of his iconophanical prelate, for piercing his priestly ear-lobes. And I think Leo the Great was a pope.} Plus, it came in convieniently downloadable form for reading on the train, where there are always at least a couple of other people doing their daily religious study.

Today's reading (and tomorrow's) is from the Epistle to Diognetus )

I will be at sister's apartment for SciFiFri tomorrow. Yay!

(3 comments | Reply)

February 27th, 2006 11:08 am - nothin' don't mean nothin'
There was a breakdown on the MARC line this morning, so the train was extremely crowded: I ended up standing in the aisle, next to a guy in a skullcap who was reading a large book that had parallel Hebrew/English text. (Probably Talmud? It was talking about Pesach guidelines, which makes sense, since tomorrow is the day we Protestant Christians celebrate the Feast of the Holy Pancake.) Anyway, I glance over at the English text to see what book it is, and what it *said* was something like "the meat of lamb must be completely roasted", but what I *read* was "My god, you guys are completely toasted," which immediately sent my mind running to [livejournal.com profile] kenosis_kalon's favorite story in the Torah, the one where the Lord smites the sons of Aaron for toking in the Tabernacle. Man, I love Judeao-Christian tradition.

(Which reminds me, some day I need to get copies of the recipes they use at church to make the Holy Pancakes. I've been helping to cook and eat them since I was about three, and they are the best pancakes ever, even the banana ones.)

Yesterday in church the lesson was the Transfiguration of Christ, so I spent most of the service thinking about Ascension and the Stargate mythos, of course. But the stellar moment was when Pastor intoned Peter's line "YOU are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God," and one of my little Sunday School kids, in the pew behind us, shouted out, "No I'm not!" (Yes, we know, princess. At least, I hope the Messiah will be less given to temper tantrums. Then again, you never know.)

Current Music:: Me and Bobby McGee
Current Mood:: [mood icon] pious


December 18th, 2005 01:09 pm - holidays
Last night was [livejournal.com profile] enemy_anime's Christmas party. You *know* it's a good party when it trickles down at about 3 am with an argument about which was geekier, playing Star Wars trivial pursuit or Dungeons and Dragons.

And then I had to get up early and go to church. This time of year I always start feeling very Hindu.

It starts with the whole chrismaramahannazaa 'war on Christmas' nonsense, which just makes me want to wish everyone a happy Diwali (even though Diwali was way back at the beginning of November this year - but then, Ramadan was in October, and that hasn't stopped anyone.)

And then in Church today, Pastor said in his sermon that the special thing about Christianity - the thing that no other major religion believes, the point of belief that is so hard for non-Christians to understand - is that our God chose to come down to Earth, incarnate as a human. So, the Ramayana and the Bhaghavad-Gita are just poems from a minor, unimportant religion then, 13% of the Earth's population nonwithstanding?

It's not that I want to belittle Christ's incarnation; it is one of the parts of the faith that I find most valuable, but it is *not* what makes Christianity special. Most religions have a god incarnate as a central figure; Islam and Judaism are almost unique in *not* having one. And the Christmas story itself was, as far as anyone can tell, stolen whole cloth from various pagan traditions. So if you want to focus on *that*, you ought to talk about how Christ was different from the others - how he was born to an unwed mother, how he lived in a thoroughly ordinary, thoroughly middle-class family rather than as a prince or a beggar, so that the only thing special about him was that he was Christ. Or you could talk about how he was long-awaited yet unexpected, like babies so often are, and how faith can be like a child coming into your life, and ruling by serving as a parent does - why the Beatitudes are so important, since we *read* them earlier in the service. Or you could go really scholarly and talk about family and society then, in Judaea, about what it meant to be a first-born son in a Jewish family (and what it would have meant if Joseph *hadn't* married her), and the ways in which layers of myth built up around the Holy Family over the millennia, as society's expectations changed. Or half a dozen other things that would be interesting ways of seeing Christmas again.

There's just so *much* more you can get from that story of the Annunciation without having to ignore actual *facts*. But then again, maybe that's too much to expect from an average, and averagely apathetic, Christian congregation these days.

Anyway, it's possible (though unlikely) that he at least mentioned some of that in the last half of the sermon; after I got fed up with his logic I dozed off and dreamed about grays and the black oil. (Let's put the X back in X-mas!)

I also got to put together a cardboard Nativity scene, printed by Lutheran Brotherhood, which had been in the back of a church closet since 1970. It was *awesome*. The back of the stable has a hole in it so that if you position it right, the Christ child is bathed in light while the rest of the scene is dark.

Current Mood:: [mood icon] aggravated
Current Music:: o come o come emmanuel


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