Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ba'al wants to remind you... come to the temple this month.

I have a message to declare to thee,
A matter I would recount.
A word of wood,
And a whisper of stone,
The murmur of the Heavens to the Earth,
Of the Deep to the Stars.
I understand lightning not known to the Heavens,
A matter men do not know,
Nor understood by the earthly multitudes.
Come, pray, and I shall reveal it,
In the midst of my mountain,
In the holy place,
The mountain of my inheritance,
The pleasant place,
The hill of my victory.

--From the Ugaritic Ba'al Cycle

P.S. The formatting here was tricky, so appreciate the clear parallelisms.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Parable: A Mule Named Science (UPDATE!)

(UPDATE!) Check this out!

Once upon a time there was a farmer who owned a mule. The mule's name was Science. He was a very good mule who worked very hard hauling all kinds of loads up to the top of Truth Hill. In the past, he had hauled Electric Lights, Antibiotics, The Theory of Relativity, Nuclear Power, Vaccination, and many other items to the summit. (Once, he hauled up Newtonian Physics, but it had since been knocked some way down the hill.)

One bright sunny morning, the farmer wanted to haul another load to the top. It was a different load than ever before. In fact, it was enormous! It was a boulder the size of a mule atop a Ford Gremlin atop an elephant. The boulder was called Atheism. Science the mule eyed the load warily, but the farmer didn't pay him any mind. After all, Science was so very useful at hauling other things, why wouldn't he be able to handle this load?, thought the very stupid farmer.

The farmer got out his ropes and chains and soon enough Science found himself tied to the side of the massive boulder. He slipped amid the ropes until his feet didn't even touch the ground anymore. So Science dangled. The farmer began to be disappointed and then became angry.

A few minutes later, some of the farmer's neighbors came along. They had never really trusted the mule, although they loved to take advantage of all the wonderful items he had hauled to Truth Hill. When they saw what the farmer had tied to the mule, they were upset. You see, ever since it had been first discovered and named, the neighbors had hated that boulder. Atheism, they liked to say, was an eyesore. It had no place atop Truth Hill. On the other hand, there was a boulder that they loved. It sat nearby, and looked very pretty. Full of interesting striations of different colors and possessing a pleasing shape, the neighbors called it Intelligent Design. If the farmer was allowed to have his boulder on the hill, they ought to be able to have theirs.

Soon they came up with a rather clever idea. They spoke to the farmer and told him that they understood his predicament. You see, they said, the mule's load was unbalanced. He would never be able to carry the boulder tied to his side like that. They then suggested a solution: Why not tie a similar load to Science, but on the other side. That way the load would be balanced. The farmer didn't like their idea, but the neighbors outnumbered him, so he finally conceded.

The neighbors got a bulldozer* and lifted up Intelligent Design. They brought it near to the other side of Science and secured it to him with their own ropes and chains. But when they pulled the bulldozer away––alas!––Intelligent Design fell against the mule and crushed him. Poor Science could only writhe while his internal organs hemorrhaged and great streams of blood poured from his every orifice. A few moments later, with eyes bulging, swollen tongue lolling, and entrails dangling, he died.

Their was a great outcry, because after all, it was... like... EEEW! Hearing all the commotion, the Wise Man from the village hobbled up the path with his walking stick. When he saw what had happened he was dismayed. He had liked Science and had thought of him as a very useful animal. "What have you done!" he asked the crowed. They explained to him what had taken place amid much buck-passing and many excuses and justifications.

Quoth the Wise Man: "Dammit. You guys are so frigging retarded." He explained to them their folly. "Couldn't you see the real issue here?" he asked, rhetorically. "It is true the load was unbalanced, but this wasn't the kind of load Science could have carried to begin with! When you tried to balance it, you just doubled the problem." He sighed. "Geez, you guys."

With a heavy heart, he decided what he must do. He stood straighter and taller than the farmer or his neighbors had ever seen. In the midst of his neighbors he raised his walking stick, which was really a magical staff. With a resonant voice he chanted the magic words "Tubulous Ligatinous et Vasectimous Immedious!" and sterilized the lot of them.

The Wise Man lived a long and happy life, and when he died, it was with the satisfaction of knowing that none of those morons in the village would be passing on their clearly deficient genetic material.

*I know what you're thinking. Why not just use the bulldozer to carry the boulder up the hill? Well, for your information, the hill was too steep and the path too narrow to admit heavy moving equipment. So there.