Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Perils of the Path People, Part 1

Over on our Ticker Blog the past couple of days, I was giving a hard time because of their poor grasp of preterism. To show there are no hard feelings, I’ll now spend a few posts here helping them out—against a group that quite frankly has CULT stamped on their foreheads in letters ten miles high.

The website is called The Path of Truth, and based on the article I read, from which the entries below are taken, the path in question is one of those where folks walk their dogs forgetting to bring pooper scoopers! The article title for examination is, “The Asininity of the Trinity.”

I’ll make this quick and painless for veteran readers: No, they show no awareness of the critical concept of Wisdom theology, thus rendering and immediately making their article an epic failure. We could literally stop there and consider this path to have been shown as misdirected, but being somewhat masochistic at the moment, we’ll take it down a few more notches.

The Path People rant on about how tries to discourage people from visiting cultic sites like that of the Path People. Now, that sort of thing has never been my policy; I always figure that we should visit the opposition’s books, websites, etc., because there’s no better way to learn where they go wrong—to say nothing of the comic relief value many offer. Exemplary of that is how the Path People try to build a Biblical case against gotquestions’ policy:

So how do we know they are not giving unbiblical answers that lead people down a false path? Don’t other religious organizations also believe they are using the Bible properly to answer questions? Which one doesn’t think they are right, or admits they are wrong? Consider! “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2 HNV).

Pondering that one! Well, one way or the other, basic epistemology is that when there are competing views either one is right and the rest are wrong, or else all are wrong and the right way is not known. How do we determine between them? The usual procedure is to collect facts, weigh evidence, and apply the principles of logic. Cults tend to not like stuff like that, so it’s not unusual for them to hoist some decontextualized verse like Prov. 21:2 which, in the context of Prov. 21, has to do with moral choices, not with things like deciding whose answers are or are not “biblical.” But of course, a cult like The Path People needs to level the playing field somehow, since they have proven themselves incapable of meeting us on level ground when it comes to things like sound exegesis and serious scholarship.

The Bible can tell us whether one uses it correctly or not, but only if properly understood and applied by the grace of God.

Oh really? And where’s that found? It isn’t! Once again, this is merely a cowardly way cults have of putting their claims out of reach of objective testing. In essence, this is just another version of the Mormon “internal witness” (see link below), which is subject to the same criticisms. For example, proposing to prevent people from visiting “unbiblical sites” is an unbiblical, false way. Here are two Scriptural witnesses that tell us so: 

“For there must also be heresies among you, that the approved ones may be revealed among you” (1 Corinthians 11:19 MKJV).

Ha ha, that’s funny. I’m not sure how they’re applying this. My guess is, based on a comment quoted below, that they’d say that because heresies “must” be among us, we need to go look at heretical sites so we can see who the “approved” are. Unfortunately that’s not a contextually sound approach to this text. In many of his letters, Paul makes use of rhetorical irony, and here, his comment that “there must also be heresies among you” is a sarcastic observation that the Corinthians are so status-conscious (as were all people in honor-shame societies) that they need division in order to gain honor.

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 KJV).

That’s a lot less successful. While it does indicate that there will be falsehood around, it doesn’t support or negate trying to stop people from going to heretical sources. Nor does either passage say that, “God has determined that false works are necessary to catch and filter out the insincere and other abusers of the truth. They are also there to try and purify the sincere.” That’s the conclusion they reach on their own, and it certainly is one valid way to approach false works.

However, I would recommend such an approach only for persons who are meant to be trained in apologetics or evangelism. It’s not an approach I’d recommend for Aunt Flossie, who doesn’t have the discernment needed to sift truth from falsehood. Bottom line: The Path People are imagining that using false works this way is God’s universal method—and that’s not found in the texts, nor is it found in any rational analysis of scholarly exegetical methods.

The Lord gave a parable describing how the wheat He sows grows together with the tares sowed by the enemy, until He sends reapers to bundle the tares for burning (Matthew 13). Whoever tries to prevent these things fights against God Himself. As it is written, “The deceived and the deceiver are His” (Job 12:16).

Um, no…that doesn’t follow either. The parable reflects the fact that there will be tares and wheat, but it doesn’t follow from that, that we’re not supposed to prevent tares from growing in the first place. If that were the case, then the Path People are themselves guilty of this, since the very presence of their website is an indication that they’re trying to change people’s mind about something, which means they’re also doing their best to tear you from the tares. Sadly, cults are seldom consistent in this regard.

A couple of paragraphs follow in which gotquestions is described as:

“…part of the darkness, erring in the foundational elements of true faith and salvation in Christ...self-serving…a black backdrop against which God shines His Light to give understanding to the simple who put their trust in Him.”

That’s another mark of cults, of course—merely sanctifying their own ignorance.
We then get to the subject of the Trinity (finally), which is put off as:

“…a diabolical and confounded misrepresentation of God…one of the prominent indicators that you are dealing with a cult.”

Yawn! And here, I will have to part ways with, because unlike them, I don’t think it is true that the “Trinity is a concept that is impossible for any human being to fully understand, let alone explain.” It’s easy to do both; you can even explain it in cartoons, as I have (link below). So on that account, I won’t get the Path People’s ruler-whack for trying to explain something I say is not explainable, though by now I imagine I’ll make their list of heretics along with everyone else. (Too bad their site’s traffic ranking is, like, 20 millionth or so and they won’t be able to warn anyone.)

It takes a few paragraphs for the Path People to get off this kick and on to the actual “bones” of the Trinity doctrine; once they get there, it’s pretty…asinine. Gotquestions puts it this way: “The Bible teaches that the Father is God, that Jesus is God, and that the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible also teaches that there is only one God…The Trinity is one God existing in three Persons. Understand that this is not in any way suggesting three Gods.”

The Path People respondeth:

What twaddle! How are “three Persons” not “three Gods”? Oh yes, we are told this is inexplicable. Well, we will explain how wickedly stupid and wrong such thinking is, because it calls the Lord a liar when He says He is the only One and Singular God, with no God beside Him (Isaiah 45:5,21). Line up three “Persons” - “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit” - and there are Gods beside each other, are there not?

No, there are not! This is the standard mistake which confuses a modern use of the word “God” as though “God” were a proper name of a person, when in fact the Greek Theo’s was an abstract noun. Today we use “God” when we likely mean the Father. Additionally, as noted in the article linked below, this fails to comprehend Wisdom and Spirit as hypostatic entities. (The word “hypostatic” I imagine will be too large for these guys.) So, sorry—three Persons does NOT have to mean 3 gods; hypostatic relationships make it otherwise. Further ranting ensues in which the Path People somehow conclude that by logic, they themselves are God because “I am one with Him, like Jesus, and exist in Him.” Well, no, not really—the Path People aren’t hypostatic entities. Sorry to disappoint them!

Later on, there’s the usual misuse of the Shema, which we’ve seen from Unitarians (see link below), and another few hundred lines of railing, and we get the impression where the Path People come from on this issue: Trinitarianism treats Jesus Christ like the Koran does. Islam presumes to honor Christ by calling Him a prophet, yet denies He is the Son of God. Trinitarians presume to honor Christ by calling Him “the second Person of the Godhead” while denying He is the One True God and Father.

Hmm…so then, Modalism? No, sorry, as that’s the least well-grounded of the anti-Trinitarian heresies, and also the most simple-minded. That’s why we have this sort of Q and A from them:

John 14:8-9 EMTV (8) Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” (9) Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He that has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (By the way, how is the Son co-equal with the Father if He is the second Person, commanded and given for the sins of mankind by the Father, who is first? And how is it the Father knows things the Son does not if they are co-equal?)

Well, for one thing, orthodox Trinitarianism maintains an ontological co-equality while also maintaining a functional subordination, which again fits hand in glove with the Wisdom template. Likewise, the hypostatic functions explain why Jesus does not know certain things (link below).

Hereafter, there’s a survey of verses used to argue for the Trinity. I don’t use all of them myself; some, like Gen. 1:26-7, are amenable to a Trinitarian view, but since they do not name three persons specifically, I don’t use them in a primary defense of the doctrine.

We’ll pick up with Part 2 with a look at how the Path People interpretively abuse those passages that we often do use.
[Edited by PML on 08-29-2014]

Basic article -- see within for links on Unitarianism
Lack of knowledge by Jesus
Mormon internal witness
YT vid


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Last Camping Trip

My beloved Mrs H once asked me if I'd ever written to Harold Camping to give him correction, I told her I was sure it had been done before, and it has. My local ministry partner alerted me to corrective attempts made when Camping pulled his nonsense before, in 1994. Here's a link to an article back then by Greg Bahnsen -- see if it doesn't sound like you could insert "2011" where 1994 is.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Clear Snoot Experience

I said there'd be no post today, but I just had to remark on the results of my turbinoplasty. The experience of breathing through my nose clearly, without the aid of medications -- for the first time ever -- is so novel that I feel like I'm dreaming at times.

Well maybe not always. When my beloved Mrs. H and I stopped by a store last night, I got a clear indication that they hadn't emptied they trash bins in a good long time. It hit me like a ton of bricks. That, too, was novel.

I expect by next week I'll be fully recovered...but if you're like me, and have been living with a stuffy nose caused by allergies -- take a look at having this procedure done, too.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Candor Camera

Last Sunday, the local megachurch announced a new fundraising project -- for 1.2 million dollars. Now what do you suppose they were going to use that for? Any guesses?

A food service ministry? Nope.

Some other kind of social service ministry, like a thrift store? Nope, not that either.

The 1.2 million is for the purchase of new television cameras -- so they can continue showing their service weekly on television.

There are times when attending or watching church services makes me physically sick. Sometimes it is because the teaching is so poor, where the Biblical text is twisted to serve some modern psychosis. (That happened, too, by the way: Genesis 22, the story of Abraham's near-sacrifice of Isaac, was perverted into, among other things, a lesson on fathers bringing their children with them whenever they make big decisions.) Sometimes it is because emotion and experience is emphasized while rationality and evidence is ignored. (That happened, too; every week in fact, because the very title television show this church produces has a strong emotional/experiential connotation.)

Then I get sick when this sort of thing happens -- funds being raised for some accessory purpose that's more for show than for serious and unavoidable ministry needs.

Yes, they'd say: A lot of people are "touched" by our television program. Okay...laying aside the fact that the insipid content does more harm than good, don't tell me that 1.2 million dollars is needed to buy television cameras. Maybe that's also for other production costs? That I don't know. What I do know is that we have a lot greater needs than that right now. They obviously have working cameras now, so why they need new ones, I can’t say.

Just for perspective here: Tekton will never need 1.2 million for any of its projects. Indeed if anyone dropped that amount in its accounts, here's what that would mean: I could tell every donor to never donate again; I'd be able to conduct the ministry until I was 83 years old (that's 40 years from now) or even longer, if I were able to put some of that into Treasury bonds; and I'd still be able to give away $200,000 to some other ministry, or else give Nick Peters a good head start as my associate.

A slick television show is often produced with the notion that it will serve as a "beacon" to the world. I think a much brighter beacon could be lit if we used our resources in a way that showed we used God's property in a responsible and efficient way.

I'm still a little weak from the surgery, and have an unrelated physician appointment Tuesday, so the Forge will return again next Thursday.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

In the Recovery Phase

Hey folks. They surgery went well and I'll be taking it easy the next two days. Link below on the procedure I had. I'm not having the level of serious after effects described, though.


Friday, June 17, 2011

TektonTV Behind the Scenes: Even Pan/Crop

Today's entry is about movement, and a specific tool I use in my film software to accomplish it. Here's a snapshot of a closing scene from my second most recent vid, where the cartoon ReligionFreeDeist character is rolling backwards along the floor of a dojo.

As cartoon RFD rolls, the background moves behind him. The character shots themselves are on trasparent backgrounds so that the dojo background shows through; we've already explained about that method in a prior entry. But how does the background move?

First of all, it's worth noting that the background is one graphic -- a very, very long graphic (dimensions: 2000 x 200 pixels) created by re-using the same smaller graphic over and over in a row. (Yes, that's how they did it in the Flintstones too; that was sufficient for the dojo, though I also added a lamp in the background for every fourth sector of the background wall.)
The "camera," as it were, is moving along this background section by section, giving the impression that RFD is rolling along it.

The film software has a tool called Event Pan/Crop, which allows me to have the camera move along larger graphics like this one for the background. Here's a screenshot of what that tool looks like. (Unfortunately, the graphic of the dojo wall turns red when I go “offline” from the film software to use a tool like screenshot capture.)

The dotted rectangle is where the camera is focusing, and the row along the bottom represents the total time that the graphic is being shown in the film -- here, a total of about 6 seconds The diamonds you see at either end of the time bar represent action marks -- places where movement across the background starts and stops. If necessary, I could have the camera range back and forth, and take turns in any direction, along the graphic. This particular sequence was rather simple, since I only went along the background in one direction, with no stops and re-starts or turns.

Almost any time you see background movement in a TektonTV vid, the Event Pan/Crop is the tool I'm using to do it. Sometimes I'll use different background drawings to accomplish this, but it can be a lot more work.

That's all for a bit -- I have a minor surgery Monday to ease my breathing through my nose, so the Forge will be off until at least next Thursday.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Reasons to (Not) Go Postal

For today's entry, we have a rousing end to a story that started back when I was about to go to Sacramento to debate Richard Carrier.

No, it has nothing to do with him. Nor with the debate.

I had arranged with the debate organizer to send a rather heavy box of books out there by media mail, to be offered for sale after the debate. The box had about $150 worth of my books in it, plus a few DVDs by someone else. I sent it off a week early to make sure it would get there on time.

But it never showed.

Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. The debate organizer and I checked with our local post offices on each end, hoping for direction in recovering the box, but each time we hit a wall of singularly unhelpful postal employees. In the past three days I figured to try the "last resort" -- the so-called dead letter office in Atlanta. I got a call back from an employee there just yesterday who was very polite -- and very unhelpful. No, sorry, we can't help you unless you bought tracking on the package.

Huh? You mean you guys don't have an indexing system for lost packages? I mean, as a librarian, I can design an indexing system in less than 30 seconds that would do the job and enable any caller to describe a package and its contents and have you able to find it immediately.

But as it turned out, they didn't have it anyway. Two days ago, one of the editors at the Christian Research Journal emailed me to say that one of the sponsors of the Battle for the Bible conference last year had a box of books of mine left over from there, and wondered what they should do with it. Yes, I know: I immediately figured it was my lost box, too. They said it didn't fit the description, but lo and behold, I met the sponsor rep yesterday afternoon and...
yep. My lost box. Whaddya know.

So what happened to it? Well, in spite of the fact that the debate organizer's address was still CLEARLY on the box...on the same side as the postage mark...apparently some brilliant postal employee decided that an older FedEx label on the box's bottom side, from the conference sponsor, was where the thing ought to go. So they (or someone) crossed out the postage label AND part of the zip code on the label to Sacramento (!). Now I have to admit I hadn't seen that older FedEx label, but really much intelligence does it take to get that the postage label is NOT on that side, so that's NOT where it should go? And that it is a FedEx label, not a USPS label?

The post office wonders why they're losing money? My beloved Mrs H and I get misdelivered items at least once every three weeks, intended for the house on the street parallel with ours with the same address number. Different resident name, different street name. I'm sure readers could multiply examples of incompetence. But where does it all come from? It happens too often to be honest, human mistakes done at a normal pace.

Here's where I think it comes from. I'd describe all the postal employees I dealt with as polite but unhelpful. I'd also use those two words to describe nearly every encounter I've had with a postal employee the last ten years. Why, for example, waste my time with the interrogations asking if I want stamps, insurance, delivery confirmation, or any one of ten dozen other things? If I wanted any of that, wouldn't I ask? And why ask all this when there's a line of 10-20 people and only 1-2 clerks?
Why, also, does the post office sell money orders? When people come in for these things, they invariably take far too long to produce, making the line longer and increasing the wait exponentially. It's a post office, for pity's sake. Not a bank or a convenience store. Ben Franklin would roll over in his grave if he knew that USPS had compromised the mission of mail delivery to make sure some bonehead didn't have to spend an extra 69 cents at the 7-11.

All of this -- the extra services, the extra questions -- is pretty clearly related to something I posted on a while back. This is kissyface customer service, designed by extroverts, for extroverts, and designed as well to soothe the whiny consumer in an economy balanced on comfort and convenience. The balance is grossly tipped in favor of such things as being nauseatingly polite while also not being able to be in any sense helpful when there's a problem. Meanwhile, we waste money, we waste time, and we get deeper and deeper into the hole while we're being asked if we want any stamps.

Maybe the introverts ought to have a rebellion of some sort -- start our own postal system, our own grocery stores and service businesses -- and show 'em how to do it right.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Texas Sized Whine

I don’t make much of political issues, but I had to be amused by a recent story of a student in Texas, the child of one Carla and Danny Schultz (also Skeptics) who filed a lawsuit to stop prayers at a public school graduation. The story has so many twists and turns that I don’t have time to follow it closely; you can see a link about it below. I’d just like to remark on a social aspect of the situation.

Apparently, the judge who sided with the student in this case argued that the student “irreparable harm” if the decision was not in his favor. What sort of harm? The student had apparently experienced “anxiety” over the issue.

He wants anxiety? Let’s send him to Sudan, they’ll be glad to show him how to relax there.
I don’t care for whiners. That includes Christian whiners, too, lest anyone think otherwise; as for example when I said concerning something in Frank Viola’s Pagan Christianity:

The first part of this is a fictional account of a man named Winchester who is bored with church; it is an expression of Viola's "blame the object, not the person" argumentation. Winchester says church "bores me to tears." A trip on over to Sudan would resolve that boredom, and he wouldn't have to dress up either. Winchester objects to wearing a tie -- over in places like the Sudan, they have some much more uncomfortable neckwear for Christians.

Whiners like Viola or that agnostic student have never experienced real persecution. They’ve never been physically tortured. They’ve never had their property confiscated by a merciless state. And please – don’t pull the old “slippery slope” canard on me with this, either; if you think allowing such trivialities as school prayer opens the door to more serious persecution of people like atheists, then the character of this nation and its people is such that you’re not going to stop it with the legal system anyway; the federal judge who decides for you in such a theoretical nation would end up dangling on a noose right next to you.

Which reminds me – although, apparently, this judge’s orders were overturned, I would say that if they had not been, it might have been a good time for some civil “disobedience.” Nothing illegal, necessarily, though as we know from leaders in such movements, like Gandhi, that level of action may someday be necessary. For now, if indeed that student had succeeded, how about giving him a taste of some real “anxiety” or “harm” (ha ha!) with things like:

Saying prayers aloud, or having religious discussions, any time he comes nearby.

Always turning conversations with him towards religious topics.

Wearing plenty of religious t-shirts and other paraphernalia in his presence, including at that graduation ceremony.

Of course, the poor whiner will probably say he’s being persecuted. (Like I said, though, he doesn't know what real persecution is.) And other whiners will say, “How would you feel if someone did that to you?” My answer is that I wouldn’t feel anything – and I wouldn’t whine about it, either. I’d engage others in debate. I’d do all I could to make my own views widely known while not also spoiling life for others. I’d produce books, films, and other media promulgating my POV. Of course, the whiners also forget that they wouldn't have those options in the Sudan. They're just using the freedoms religious people fought for to accommodate their own whininess.

One particularly whiny YT atheist wonders if we’d put up with things like atheist blessings at graduations if Christians were in the minority. Um, well, some may not like that, but I wouldn’t care one bit. Not that it matters: Atheist whiners take stuff like this to court because they know they can’t win the real arguments, so they take it out on others with whatever weapons they can scratch out.

How about this: Let’s see if the Schultzes can defend their views on a forum like TheologyWeb! Anyone out there know them well enough to extend the challenge?


Friday, June 10, 2011

The Wolf With a Laugh Track

Thommy Stark has made the rather laughable claim that follows in regards to my response to his latest whiny diatribe against Paul Copan:
…his first criticism, that I don’t understand what an agonistic culture is, is a good example of bluster. I addressed this reality very clearly and straightforwardly in both my review of Copan and in HFG (on more than one occasion in each), and I showed why this move is a red herring. One can’t replace moral evaluation with historical description and expect that to solve the moral problem.
First of all, yes – Stark had no idea what an agonistic culture is; and he had no idea, not until I told him. He makes no reference to it anywhere in his work, nor does he ever refer to any scholar who has done work in that area. He shows no awareness of such concepts as honor and shame (he refers to honor only when quoting of it in the Biblical text), limited good, the role of envy, or the collectivist vs. individualist mindset. If he did know any of this, he would have used it in his work. He also would have recognized Susan Niditch’s profound error in attributing the origins of the “ban” (cherem) to the need to assuage guilt over killing people.
Second, yes, one CAN use historical description – as well as social and anthropological description – to solve the moral problem, or rather, show that it does not exist in the first place. The moral “problem” seen is rooted in the bigoted evaluation of critics like Stark who presume that their own modern, Western values are superior and that they are warranted in looking down their snot-encrusted noses at those bone in the nose heathens who would DARE violate their modern moral standards.
As it is, Stark has not done a whit better than any critic so far in presenting more than “argument by outrage” (link below). He never offers any serious, complex evaluation of the social settings of the OT world; such references are sparse, incomplete, and without reference to the most critical concepts of all (honor/shame, etc per above). It’s not hard to see why he doesn’t, either:
In HFG I cite Jeffrey Stout at length on just this issue. That I am called “bigoted” for making moral judgments about an agonistic culture is humorous. In the review itself I make a clear distinction between judging actions as moral or immoral and judging those who engage in them as moral or immoral. With human sacrifice, for example, I explained how its logic made great sense to the ancients, and I said that while we should judge the act of child sacrifice as immoral, that doesn’t necessarily mean that parents who practiced it were immoral people. We should give them the benefit of the doubt that they were doing the best they could with what they believed.
How nice. How irrelevant. I am not questioning whether Stark judges ancient people, although he clearly does so, yet in such a way as to maintain plausible deniability. The technique is one that allows the critic to maintain their air of condescending moral superiority while also not seeming to judge people as people. They’ve learned, in other words, the way to maintain the surface impression of “love the sinner, hate the sin,” an attitude that Stark certainly learned when he was a fundamentalist. But the moment Stark airs out his own hypocrisy (as when he lashes out at those who criticize him), the pretense is exposed. He may apologize later -- but by then it's too late. The one benefit here is that he doesn't have to apologize to dead people from the Bible when he insults them.
Even so, the question I raise IS about judging the acts as moral or immoral; and Stark’s judgments on these matters are informed by nothing more than his presumption that his own values and morals are superior and that he is competent to make judgments (and Stout offers nothing of any more substance). As it is, again, he provides little to no serious ethical analysis; his critique of Copan is rife with “arguments” that amount to, “oh, how horrible!” or “how would you feel if someone did this to you?” That’s probably as deep and as complex as his mental capacity allows him to go, but it won’t do the job for those who require more than an emotional high to be convinced.
In a comment elsewhere, Stark whines:
I’ve read Holding’s responses so far. I’ve attempted to have fruitful engagements with him in the past and it hasn’t worked, so I won’t be engaging him. If you do have any questions about particular criticisms, feel free voice them here and I’ll be more than happy to respond, but I’m not going to use my time trying to persuade Holding; that’s a bottomless pit.
Oh yes, that’s a microcosm all right, concerning Stark’s own moral turpitude. You see, if he’s telling the truth, there’s no way he could have read my responses to him so far, unless he’s stealing them. The response is part of an E-Block series, and he’s supposed to hit a “donate” button to get access to that. As it is, it is clear that he is not in the least disturbed about stealing others’ intellectual property, even when it is clear that he is supposed to be providing compensation. By the same token, whoever is giving him that copy is participating in the theft as well. So he’s stealing...or maybe lying about stealing. Either way, he and his twin Loftus seem to have this thing about trying to violate the Ten Commandments.
The stark reality is that Stark knows he is in over his head – he’s made multiple mistakes that he refuses to admit, even on the most trivial matters. (Link below.) Like Loftus – whose moral and intellectual twin he is – he won’t face me on an open forum like TheologyWeb, because the reality is that he knows he’s not prepared for it, and never will be. Do be prepared for this much, though: As a skilled rationalizer, he is very likely even now “cramming” on social science literature, so that he can say later on that he was familiar with it all along and throw around words like “agonistic” with the air of one who is doing more than just slurring them like a parrot who overheard it.
Yep. Thommy Stark is Anthony Weiner of liberal “Christianity” – except that it’s his mind that’s wearing no clothes.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Things Christ-Mythers Hate

A longtime reader proposed that we start a list of things hated by people who think Jesus never existed. Got something to add? Pop it into comments. As for back with the Forge Friday; I got some USDA work to do. Bleah.

1.) Each other. Was Jesus a copy of Horus, a copy of Julius Caesar, perhaps Titus, or just a Midrash. They cannot agree on that and have no problem considering those who disagree with their personal Mythicist stance to be irrational.

2.) Peer review. Getting arguments into academic journals just takes so much work when instead they simply can publish online for anyone to find.

3.) Atheist and Agnostic Bible scholars who simply have no time for their nonsense.

4.) Academic presses which simply refuse to publish there books. Why try to publish your books with say Yale when you can publish them on demand and avoid that whole peer review problem.

5.) Relevant degrees. Why bother having a degree in history before writing about Jesus. Graduate from High School proclaim yourself an expert in ancient documents and you are ready to do battle against Christianity!

6.) That fact that many ancient figures from history are accepted without any remaining primary sources.

7.) Christianity. Well duh.

8.) The fact that other fringe historical proponents use arguments very similar to theirs.

9.) The fact that they pretty much agree with academia in opposing things such as truthers and birthers but suddenly academia is irrational toward their arguments.

10.) Any expert that disagrees with their views, it seems they only become relevant experts when they happen to say something mythers like.

11.) Nazareth. Stubbornly insists on being dated to the first century.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Copyright Lockup

While looking for something else on YouTube the other day, I noticed some vids by some other people on some other topic that raised my interest. The user in question had apparently for years been posting “reviews” of episodes of a popular sci-fi program, in which they used a small amount of footage from the episodes. They had done this freely for some time, but more recently, the sci-fi series had been purchased by a new owner, and this new owner frowned on the use of the material. As a result, YouTube apparently began removing the reviewer’s vids – compelling him to take them elsewhere, and prompting reply vids in which he and others objected in strong (and sometimes profane) terms to what they saw as YT’s cowardice and/or concern for making money.

I won’t be deciding here who has the better case. On the surface, the user seemed to have been within the rights of fair use, and the new owner of the series appeared to be using bullying tactics. That’s not unusual; different corporations and people have different views of how protective they want to be with their material. Some examples of excess:

Fuji TV, the owner of the original Iron Chef program, sent out cease and desist letters to a number of fan websites using video, pictorial, and audio clips from the series.

Paramount Pictures forced the removal of a vid someone took of the set of the next Transformers movie.

J. K. Rowling objected to fans who created a concordance-type work of her Harry Potter novels, and also went after a military newsletter that had printed a parody of her stories.

All of these are fairly obvious cases of owners ignoring the principles of fair use and using muscle to get their way – for of course, the average fan doesn’t have the resources to fight such matters in court. (The military does, and I wish they had, but they chose to cave in instead.)

Not all owners are like this. In particular, LucasFilm has been very open to the fair use of their material, especially in parody. I recently used a smattering of a LucasFilm musical piece from Raiders of the Lost Ark in one of my vids, and only did so after making a variety of checks (including with a media consult of mine, who has worked closely with LucasFilm in the past) to make sure it would pass muster. The results can be interesting at times: My vid opens with a “parody” title graphic which is reminiscent of, but not exactly like, the Raiders title logo. My consult declared it passable, precisely because it was like, but not TOO much like.

Even so: We do have some who, like FujiTV, choose to be aggressive, and I watch out for that. The results of THAT can also be interesting. FujiTV, for one, ended up alienating a lot of fans of Iron Chef, which in the end surely did more harm than good for their profits. (LucasFilm takes the opposite view and sees things like parodies as a way to increase their exposure and profit.) The above referenced users, well – the results there speak for themselves: The fans are now angry, and can’t understand why the new owner would want to squash something that can only be to their benefit.

It’s a tight rope to walk, to be sure. I don’t care much for people using my work, even briefly and within fair use boundaries, but I recognize that as my own problem and don’t press it unless I think fair use has devolved to unfair abuse – particularly if someone is just using my material to be lazy (as is the case with a user I referred to some time back who stole a news background image from a website and purposely obscured the website logo, or as in the case of “HonestTechnoAtheist,” who did nothing but crib my vid for his entire reply!). Perhaps the problem in such cases IS that people are lazy – they don’t appreciate how much work creators do, because after all, it is so easy for them to just lift a screenshot of that work. You work hours to paint a masterpiece, and all they do is point, click, and save. That hardly seems fair, even under fair use.

But then again, I don’t think FujiTV was all about caring for their craft so much as caring for their money. That’s the other side you can fall from while walking the tightrope. On the one hand, you want to discourage thieves. On the other hand, you don’t want to alienate those who admire your work.

Making it worse… it’s sometimes too hard to tell the difference between one and the other!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

TektonTV Behind the Scenes: Layer Celebration

Last week I released a vid which ended with a scenario of the Apostle Paul karate-chopping ReligionFreeDeist’s YT channel page into shards, to reveal behind it the message, “Repent of Your Charlatanism!” This scene gives us a good example of how TektonTV uses layers of graphics to achieve an effect.
To compose this scene, there were actually three separate graphics, seen below:

It may not be apparent, but the space surrounding Paul is transparent. That’s one of the keys to imposing him over the other backgrounds. The other thing to notice is that all three graphics are exactly the same dimensions. This is most important where Paul is concerned, because he’s an animated figure, and I have to keep him in the same place while he’s chopping. So I had placed Paul onto a blank graphic with the same dimensions as the other two.

Initially, the scene started with just the scene of RFD’s channel (a screenshot capture -- and no, I wasn't trying to get it with his eyes closed, but it worked out that way, and I decided it looked funnier). Then Paul had to jump in and move, which meant his “layers” were superimposed over the RFD channel layer. Once he had “chopped” the channel picture, I was ready to use the third layer, the one with the “repent” message. That one become the “bottom” layer, and I chopped up the picture of RFD’s channel into shards and pasted the pieces on to the “repent” layer randomly. Then, Paul’s layer was imposed over that one.
Using the undo feature of my graphics program, I then removed Paul, rearranged the shards with cut and paste so that they looked like they had fallen further, and put Paul back again.

Scenes like this can be a real challenge, in terms of trying to think of how the layering process can or should be used to achieve the desired effect. Under this rubric, it’s not hard to see why I express such contempt for the work of the likes of NonStampCollector, who comparatively speaking, do so little real work; or others who just crib screenshots of my material and therefore essentially do no real work at all. Those of you with an art or craft of your own can relate: If you’re a musician, for example, what would you think of someone who responded to a symphony you composed with a chorus of banging tin cans? Is it little wonder some artists are so vehement when it comes to copyright protection?

Which reminds me…check here tomorrow for more on that!