Welcome. It's great to have you along. You'll find a comprehensive "about" page here. Please join the conversation here - but make sure you read my disclaimer, and comment policy.
You can also Subscribe to the RSS Feed
Faux-spiritual fauxtivation is the new black on Instagram. I’ve always fancied myself a hallmarkesque writer of vaguely convincing half truths – and lets face it, that’s what passes for truth these days. So I’ve launched an experiment that is part seeing how gullible the internet is, part fun, part outlet for my cynicism.
When I get sick of it I’ll do a bit of a breakdown on what sort of pictures and quotes were the most popular and what that says about the instagram generation. Maybe. Or maybe I’ll be so benspired I’ll start believing the hype.
The theory of Tommy Westphall’s mind – which, in a nutshell, through crossover characters and references between programs, ties over 300 TV shows to the imagination of one autistic character in a show I’d never heard of called St. Elsewhere named Tommy Westphall.
The last scene in the St. Elsewhere show allegedly made it apparent (it’s disputed by at least one article) that the entire show had been in the imagined world of Tommy Westphall. Characters from St. Elsewhere, appeared in the series Homicide. Homicide’s character Detective Munch, has been in seven different shows, other than St. Elsewhere – including Homicide, SVU, Arrested Development, The X-Files, The Wire, 30 Rock, and even Sesame Street… Characters from those shows have been in other shows. Tying them to the same universe. Tying them to Tommy Westphall’s mind.
According to this interview with one of the guys who came up with that map, some of the crossovers are more tenuous than others, but about 70% of them are meant to be fairly tight connections by character – rather than references to entities or corporations that are fictional presences in more than one series.
They even mention the theory that all of Tarantino’s movies occur either within the same universe, or as movies within the Tarantino universe that characters from the main universe watch.
So there’s this movie called Zeitgeist. It’s popular on YouTube. It’s old. It questions the originality of the claims Christianity makes about Jesus.
It’s not very good history.
It resurfaced recently as a silly cartoon infographic circulating on Facebook and elsewhere.
If the claims in this infographic were accurate it’d be a great reason to rethink following Jesus.
But they’re not. I did a little reading when this popped up on a friend’s wall. Here’s what I found…
It’s a shame hardly any of the statements about Horus are even remotely close to being true, and most of them are based on some non-scholarly comparative religion by a guy named Gerard Massey that has even been debunked by skeptics – there aren’t any references to Egyptian papyrii, hieroglyphics, or recordings of the Horus legend, of which there are actually many competing accounts, that back up the claims made, and the comparisons on the basis of what is generally agreed about Horus stories are so vague that they’d apply to anybody people want to worship as a god…
Ignoring the odd origin stories of Horus (there are many, some involve Osiris being raised, others involve Isis conceiving Horus from the dismembered body parts of her husband, which I’d argue makes the virgin birth claim untenable, also the idea that Iris was still a virgin after a significant time period of being married to Osiris before his death is frankly, quite quaint…), there are other obvious problems.
Also, Christmas was a deliberate takeover of pagan festivals, it wasn’t until about 300AD that anybody seriously suggested Jesus was born then, and it’s not a particularly serious suggestion given the complete lack of evidence.
If these very simple claims are very easy to debunk, and they appear to be – though admittedly there’s a lot of competing claims about Horus that have been compiled as though there’s only one Horus narrative, and there’s a few merges going on between Horus and his father Osiris. The best one being the resurrection one – which confuses Horus with his father Osiris. Who wasn’t crucified, but nailed into a coffin…
If this is the kind of thing that passes for educated atheist interactions with Christian beliefs then it makes me sad.
There’s no doubt that both Christianity and prior to that, Judaism emerged within, and mostly against, other cultures with competing religious views and accounts for the creation of the world, and their particular culture’s special place within it. There’s also no doubt that Christianity deliberately responds to alternative claims using familiar terminology, so, for example, just about all the titles used for Jesus were actually used for the worshipped Roman Emperors – because Christians were making a deliberate comparison between Jesus and Caesar.
Most Ancient Near Eastern religions involve Gods and their offspring – none push quite the same human/divine paradigm that Jesus is claimed to have pushed (fully God+fully man), and none of them hang quite so much on the full humanity, with divine parenthood, of the saviour figure.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the real God would present himself in a manner expected by the people of the day, especially if it’s a manner described years before in the Old Testament.
Here’s a nice little bit of extended scholarly debunking of Zeitgeist from CPX.
I made some poems, that felt a little more like prose. I’ll write out the titles below each picture so that you
Like this attempt to capture the Zombie Apocalypse.
An Outbreak Of Darkness
To The Burning City
World War Z
A Furious Hunger
One Last Kill
The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies Of The Apocalypse
A Furious Hunger
Help Lord The Devil Wants Me Fat
How To Be A Man
The Big Idea
Absinthe And Flamethrowers
How To Have A No. 1 Hit Single
Songs Of The Humpback Whale
An Outbreak Of Darkness
Backwards Masking Unmasked
The Whole Truth
Just Do Something
One Day At A Time
Jogging With Jesus
Run Baby Run
Slim For Him
And then I made some theology. This is pretty much the narrative arc of the whole Bible, though it’s also a summary of Genesis and then the solution to the problem of Genesis…
How To Read Genesis
What Is History?
The Origin Of The Species
Calls To Worship
The Tipping Point
Help Lord, The Devil Wants Me Fat
Adams v God
Cry, The Beloved Country
The Promise Of The Future
Deliver Us from Evil
Emperor: The Death of Kings
The Great Exchange
This Other Eden
Aaron Sorkin, creator of the West Wing and other brilliant things, has written a new show called The Newsroom, if you’re not in Australia you can watch the whole first episode on YouTube.
Anyway, he’s doing a press run for the show, which is just kicking off. And he was a bit of a patronising jerk to a reviewer, Sarah Nicoll Prickett, who points out that the leads in Sorkin’s work are always men.
I reckon a) this is an odd criticism of Sorkin given he’s a guy, and by the look of the reuse of his material, puts a fair bit of himself into his writing, and b) he has produced some of the more memorable and powerful female characters in his major TV shows – so Dana in Sports Night, Abbie Bartlett and CJ in the West Wing, and Jordon in Studio 60…
“The great American dialectic – optimism and realism, faith and reason – is thrillingly animated onscreen, but hardly moreso than on the page. I had to watch the show twice just to believe (a) how good that script was and (b) how incredibly convinced of its goodness, in every sense of “good,” it was.
Hence, my first question starts, “I watched the pilot twice … ” But I don’t get to the question part because Sorkin looks as if he wants to say something. I invite him to do so, and he asks, “Because you liked it so much the first time, or because you didn’t understand it the first time?”
So huge is the hubris in thinking anyone smart enough to write about this show for a national newspaper might not be yet smart enough to understand it (should you fret about your own Sorkin-fathoming abilities, let me say that if you read Don Quixote in the ninth grade or studied American History in the 11th, you will be fine) that I just swallow and tell my own truth.”
“Sorkin doesn’t see this. He denies being either an ideologue or a modernist, agreeing only that the show is written in his voice, and that said voice is “authorial” (both my word and his). I’d posit that creating an authorial drama in a time of mumbling, precarious, voice-of-a-generation comedy almost absolutely constitutes an ideology, one both modernist and masculinist. But conveniently, at that moment, the interview’s over.
“Listen here, Internet girl,” he says, getting up. “It wouldn’t kill you to watch a film or pick up a newspaper once in a while.” I’m not sure how he’s forgotten that I am writing for a newspaper; looking over the publicist’s shoulder, I see that every reporter is from a print publication (do not see: Drew Magary). I remind him. I say also, factually, “I have a New York Times subscription and an HBO subscription. Any other advice?”
He looks surprised, then high-fives me. Being not a person who high-fives or generally makes physical contact with interview subjects, I look more surprised.
“I’m sick of girls who don’t know how to high-five,” he says. He makes me try to do it “properly,” six times.”
“There are plenty of terrific actors on this show, but they can’t do much with roles that amount to familiar Sorkinian archetypes. There is the Great Man, who is theoretically flawed, but really a primal truth-teller whom everyone should follow (or date). There are brilliant, accomplished women who are also irrational, high-strung lunatics—the dames and muses who pop their eyes and throw jealous fits when not urging the Great Man on. There are attractively suited young men, from cynical sharpies to idealistic sharpies, who glare and bond and say things like “This right here is always the swan song of the obsolete when they’re staring the future paradigm in the face.””
“Sorkin’s shows are the type that people who never watch TV are always claiming are better than anything else on TV. The shows’ air of defiant intellectual superiority is rarely backed up by what’s inside—all those Wagnerian rants, fingers poked in chests, palms slammed on desks, and so on. In fact, “The Newsroom” treats the audience as though we were extremely stupid. Characters describe events we’ve just witnessed. When a cast member gets a shtick (like an obsession with Bigfoot), he delivers it over and over. In episode four, there’s a flashback to episode three. In a recent interview, Sorkin spoke patronizingly of cop shows, but his Socratic flirtations are frequently just as formulaic, right down to the magical “Ask twice!” technique.”
Ouch. I’ll still watch it. Even if Sorkin’s characters, like his scripts, are rehashed series by series. Because they’re still the best characters and scripts going around.
The other way the Internet works these days is via memes – memes which add fuel to the fire. I give you the “casually pepper spray everything” meme. And the tumblr (there’s some artwork there, as in famous paintings, not just meme fodder, featuring some nudity – just a warning (and some language)).
I reckon that’s fun. So I’ve come up with a few. Have you got any?
Titanic – The story of a huge, ship shaped, submarine that emerges from the depths to rescue hundreds of people from a frozen, watery, grave.
Romeo + Juliette – the story of two zombies, who return from the grave only to be kept apart by their feuding families.
The Wizard of Oz – A young lady is sent by a wizard to fly a house to a faraway land. First she must get rid of a bunch of weird followers, removing vital organs and personality traits, and eventually she releases a witch from her captivity under said house.
NSFW. Four letters that spell danger on the Internet. But what do you do if your workplace itself is not safe for work?
About a year ago (possibly more, possibly less) somebody (I think it was Ben) tagged me in a meme where you had to show off your desk. And I didn’t. I took a photo of my desk (I have a few workplaces) looking very tidy. But I was a little reluctant to take a photo of my office. Which in our house is called the “naked lady room”… I’ve actually been doing some study in there this week. So I’ve decided to put aside my shame, and post this picture of the room (that’s a photo of my fully clothed wife on the screen of the computer lest you get any other ideas).
“When a computer running an older version of XP can’t find any of its “favorite” wireless networks, it will automatically create an ad hoc network with the same name as the last one it connected to -– in this case, “Free Public WiFi.” Other computers within range of that new ad hoc network can see it, luring other users to connect. And who can resist the word “free?”"
1. It looks for preferred networks to connect to from the networks available.
2. If that fails, Wireless Auto Configuration attempts to connect to the preferred networks that do not appear in the list of available networks.
3. Failing that, if there is an ad hoc network in the list of preferred networks that is available, Wireless Auto Configuration tries to connect to it.
4. If that fails, and there is an ad-hoc network in the list of preferred networks that is not available, Wireless Auto Configuration configures the wireless network adapter to act as the first node in the ad hoc network.
So here’s what happened:
“At one time or another somewhere out there someone connected to a real ad-hoc WiFi network that had the SSID “Free Public WiFi”. They added this network to their preferred network list. They then traveled to a location where this WiFi SSID didn’t exist (airport, airplane, and/or hotel). They powered on their laptop with the wireless card on and Wireless Auto Configuration took over and starting searching for WiFi networks. After trying steps 1 through 3 above, Windows gave up and configured WiFi card to ad hoc mode with the SSID “Free Public WiFi” (since it was a preferred network).”
And a meme/harmless virus was born:
“A second person in close proximity to the user above also has a wireless enabled laptop and is looking to connect to a WiFi network. They scan to see what is available and notice an SSID called “Free Public WiFi”….they connect to it not knowing that it is an ad hoc network. After a few seconds of wondering why they can’t surf the web they disconnect from the SSID, shrug their shoulders and move on with life. Now they have the viral SSID in their preferred list too. The next time they power on their laptop it starts to look for the “Free Public WiFi” SSID. This process is repeated in many locations across the US and world again and again. Soon this SSID is in preferred wireless networks lists everywhere spreads like a virus.”
Ben tagged me in a meme. I have to list ten things that make me happy. Presuppose that there are ten or more things about my relationship with God, and my relationship with my wife that make me happier than the things on this list. Neither of those are “things” though. I’m going to try to limit my list to nouns, without too many abstractions.
Arguments about fun stuff.
Pictures of Mexicans.
Words, used well.
Home-cooked meals that rival their restaurant counterparts.
I tag anybody who stands close enough. I’m too slow to catch you.
This last group encouraged readers to search “brain eating vaccine” on google – and it quickly hit the google trends charts. One day I’m going to spend a bit of energy blogging specifically about the words that are on that chart at the time to see what happens to my traffic.
So this is my first meme. Simone and Amy I hope you feel very special. Simone created the initial meme and Amy passed along the link. Deep down I wonder if this is a subliminal way to get more links to your blogs. I’ll oblige as I like you both.
I’m currently at the end of a tiring week and am enjoying lazying around in my flannelette pyjamas. I’ve been in them since 6.20. Awesome.
My top 5 things in my wardrobe that I wouldn’t be without.
1. Dark blue jeans. Comfortable, practical and versitile.
2. Cocktail dresses. I amassed a small collection while living in Townsville.
3. Wallabies jersey. A large dose of sentimentality mixed with an equally a large dose of patriotism.
4. Brown jackets. I have a long and a short one. Looking forward to wearing them more than once per year.
5. No ironing required white skirts. I hate ironing so I like these skirts. They can be dressed up or down.
Eutychus was a young man who fell to his death because the Apostle Paul preached for too long (Acts 20). He's now the patron saint of non-boring Internet.
Nathan is a Christian. A husband. A father. A student. A writer. A PR Consultant. A coffee drinker. A fan of staccato lists in profiles.
He is currently a student minister at Creek Road Presbyterian Church, Carina (South Brisbane) and the opinions expressed on this page are his own and not representative of Creek Road, or the denomination.
Some of his PR/web marketing clients include: