Religion for the Non Religious

I have been reading Bishop Spong’s new book. What follows is best described as “thoughts arising.”


Spong writes about the place of miracles in the gospels. My own understanding is that “miracle workers” were two a penny back then, as they are in rural Africa. Jesus “had” to do miracles to get his foot in the door so to speak. We today see his miracles as proof of his divinity, but Mark 2 is quite clear that the really astonishing thing was not the healing of the paralytic, but Jesus’ forgiveness of the man. We tend to write off the fact that Jesus forgave his sins as the easy part. It is one proof that we cannot understand the Bible unless we understand the times.


Spong makes the point that Barabbas actually should be written Bar Abbas and means Son of the Father, which is very close to titles given to Jesus. What Spong fails to add is that Barabbas had a first name and that first name was Jesus. The Revised English Bible actually now has Pilate asking in Matthew’s gospel whether they want Jesus Bar-Abbas, that is Jesus Son of the Father, or Jesus called the Messiah. This strengthens the point that Spong was making and casts a slightly different light on the crowd scene.



. . . more to follow

The ‘Idle’ Oil Field Fallacy

Red Cavaney, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, makes the good point in The Wall Street Journal (6/20/08) that a great deal of exploratory and developmental work has to be undertaken before a “nonproducing” field can be classified as a “producing” field. He then argues that this means that nonproducing fields are not the same as “idle” fields, a charge the Congress is currently making. Fair enough up to a point. Continue reading

Facts: Computers & computing

This is just a collection of ideas about hardware and software that came to my attention.


New on the market HP2133 with Vista that is downgradeable to XP – a LInux version exists. Already on the market is Eee PC900. Coming is the Eee PC901, Dell E and MSI Wind. (DMN 6/20/08)

Our air-conditioning went out yesterday

I talk a big story about being environmentally conscious, drive a small car etc and etc but two days ago our air-conditioning went out. As temperatures outside rose into the 90’s, the temperature inside soared into the 80’s – and I wilted. I realized as the day went by and I got nothing done partly because of the heat and largely because I had been unable to sleep because of the heat that I simply could not live where I do were it not for air-conditioning. I am as much a child of my age as any of those folks driving their big SUV’s that I like to criticize. If we are to get serious about climate change then we all need to change our lifestyles dramatically – me as much as they. Continue reading

Putting the country first

I have been listening to good friends exchange e-mails recently on a variety of topics that include Obama versus McCain and the realities or otherwise of global warming. What has struck and dismayed me greatly is that there is no search in all of this for common ground. Instead, each is simply lopping bombs from their side over an unbridgeable fence. I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Fareed Zakaria’s quotation of David Gergen in Newsweek June 16, 2008 in which he says, “With the end of the cold war, we saw a new, destructive kind of partnership and for much of the past decade, we’ve kicked the can down the road on our big problems . . . I have a distinct memory that the World War II generation really put country ahead of party. That is simply not the case with the generation in power now.” As Zakaria says, compromise is hard and we are just not attempting, even among good friends, to work at it- for the sake of the country.

What’s driving oil prices?

Saw a fascinating squib on TV today with a fellow filling up a dozen gas tanks in order to beat the rising price of gas and driving off with all these plastic, orange containers on the back of this truck. That was followed by a slightly more organized version in which people purchased gas from a dealer and stored it in his tanks from which they could later draw. One fellow was laying out something like $10,000 to protect himself against future rises in price. And, of course, be engaging in this hoarding behavior these folks are guaranteeing that they will see the price rise that they expect. Once people expect inflation to occur, then as day follows night inflation will follow.

We are led to believe that this hoarding behavior is taking place on a very large scale, involving international speculators who are trading in oil rather than dollars. The US buys goods from China and pays for those goods in dollars. Historically, China then invests those dollars in US government securities where they have earned a good rate of interest. Now the Fed has slashed that interest rate and on top of that the dollar is in a free fall. So, a better place for China to put its dollars is to use them to buy oil today and take delivery of it in the future. This has turned oil into a currency effectively and its inherently hoarding effect is causing the price of oil to rise, which is exactly what the speculator wants to happen – when invested in oil – and fears happening — if not invested in oil.