Saturday, April 22, 2006

Native Tension

It seems incidents of Native American tension and protests are coming into the news in Ontario.

For example, in Caledonia, Ontario, natives occupied a housing development for 52 days until the police raided to end it. Later, natives "blockaded a vital Ontario rail corridor" in order to "show solidarity for those occupying a disputed parcel of southwestern Ontario land". Sources: this article and also this one. The disputed parcel of land was taken from the natives a couple of centuries ago.

As much as part of me wants to say: LET GO OF THE PAST AND ADJUST TO THE NEW REALITY, I have to stop and ponder this more carefully. If we (we being the majority in North America, whites of european descent) think all Native Americans are going to look at what happened over the last few hundred years and then sit back in a passive manner and say "Oh well, what happens will happen", we are VERY VERY VERY VERY naive.

What has occured, if not genocide, was one of the largest full-featured invasions with many war atrocities. And not just in North America, but South America too.

In his biting condemnation of the Europeans activities in the "New" World called "A Caution Against Bigotry", Christian leader John Wesley says: " It were to be wished, that none but heathens had practised such gross, palpable works of the devil (speaking of abuses within pagan religion). Even cruelty and bloodshed, how little have the Christians come behind them! And not the Spaniards or the Portuguese alone, butchering thousands in South America: not the Dutch only in the East Indies, or the French in North America, following the Spaniards step by step: our own countrymen, too, have wantoned in blood, and exterminated whole nations; plainly proving thereby what spirit it is that dwells and works in the children of disobedience."

Some scholars estimate that when Europeans began to discover North America, there were some 10 million Natives living within the current borders of the U.S. Now the number is 2.4 million. How is that for population skrinkage? The death rate would have to be astronomically higher than the birthrate for that to happen. Anyone want to venture a guess about what caused this decline? Who will be held accountable for this? Sure much of it was due to "natural" causes such as disease, but of course it directly coincided with the arrival of the Europeans.

We (speaking generaly of Europeans) have trampled these people into the ground for years, taken their land, and generally insulted them. What do we expect? For them to sit down and passively twiddle their thumbs? Would we expect to do the same if Iran, for example, were to raid our dwelling place and claim superiority over us?

We should be suprised that they (Native Americans) have not put forward MORE resistance and protest.

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Dual Monitors!

Just last night I setup Dual Monitors on my PC using the TwinView feature that my video card supports. This enabled me to do this WITHOUT two video card (my video card has two output ports, one DVI, and one old-style).

It is very cool! However, it may take some getting used it. I'm trying to keep my right screen (and older CRT) for things that I leave open for a long time and I can briefly glance at to find out what I need (right now I have my inbox there and also a memory monitor). On my left screen, I have a ViewSonic 21 inch LCD for my "workspace".

For those who are not familiar with this setup, I can actually move my cursor to the right edge of my left screen and move it right on to my right screen, and also drag windows back and forth.

I got this all going under SuSE 10.0 with KDE. For those who are interested in doing a similar thing, here are the lines I had to add to /etc/X11/XF86Config under the Section "Device" area for my video card:

Option "TwinView"
Option "TwinViewOrientation" "LeftOf"
Option "SecondMonitorHorizSync" "UseEdidFreqs"
Option "SecondMonitorVertRefresh" "UseEdidFreqs"
Option "ConnectedMonitor" "DFP,CRT"
Option "MetaModes" "DFP: 1280x1024, CRT: 1280x1024"

These config changes were necessary in order to get things going, and once that happened KDE was quite supportive in tweaking the setup (it offered me some Multiple Monitor options in the control panel).

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Monday, April 03, 2006

Counter Culture and The Dust of Death

In the early 70's, Christian Os Guinness published a tome entitled "the Dust of Death". On the back cover it says "With the dust of death slowly settling over all of Western culture, Os Guinness charts the journey of of a generation--out from the technological wasteland and into the Promised Land of radical politics, Eastern religion, psychedelic drugs and the occult. Rejecting both the technological society and the counter culture, he calls clearly for a Third Way".

To be properly digested, this nearly 400 page volume needs to be read from cover to cover.

In commenting on how Christians are to understand supernaturalism and mysticism, Guiness states: "..there are for the Christian two supernatural areas. The first is a genuine experience of God and the second is an experience of the occult powers, the devil and evil spirits. While both are real and supernatural, only the former is legitimate; the latter is real but wrong. Understanding this, we can see that for the Christian there are still two legitimate mystical experiences. The first is natural mysticism including nature mysticism and aesthetic mysticism; the second is supernatural mysticism, a genuine experience of God. Both are legitimate forms of mysticism, but it is common error to mistake the natural mysticism for the supernatural and give it connotations that are spiritual...It can not be stressed too strongly, especially in the climate of a growing and dangerous vogue for contentless religious experience, that the mystical experience is only a part of the Christians total experience."

Then, continuing, Os Guinness responds to Timothy Leary's charge that "Every religion in world history was founded on the basis of some flipped-out visionary trip". Guinness responds by saying that "the Christian's supernatural experience of God is always in terms of truth. This judgement runs counter to much current theology let alone mysticism..There was a content to [Apostle Paul's] experience. Paul did an about-face and headed in a direction totally antithetical to that in which he had been traveling before. Clearly his was no undefined experience...Paul mentions with fascinating attention to detail that Jesus had spoken to him 'in the Jewish language'...the biblical account clearly indicates an experience that was mystical; much of it was beyond words. But it was also personal and propositional."

The Christian worldview embraces the reality of the supernatural, but at the same time the Christian message is not centered around a "trip". Christianity, as Guinness clearly expounds, is not contentless mysticism, but embraces mystical elements in a proper perspective grounded in truth and reality, with personal and propositional revelation. This, when rightly understood, provides a robust answers to the dillemas faced by the rise (and fall) of the 60's counterculture and psychedelic movement. The "trip" did not provide answers, it only raised more questions and left its adherents without a solid base to stand on. Unfortunately, many times modernist Christians have done no better, only offering yet another 'trip' (ie. religion bathed in mysticism without any sort of concept of personal and propositional revelation). Humanity does not hunger for another "trip" bathed in religious language (contentless religion), but it needs to be presented the gospel, and a gospel with propositional content.

Guinness ends the book in a powerfuly way, saying:

"The present erosion of Christian culture means the removal of the last restraining influence of the Reformation. The striptease of humanism is simply the logic of the Renaissance held in check by the Reformation for four centures but now exposed in all the extremes of its consquences. If the last twenty-five years presuppose the tensions and questions of preceding centuries, it is little wonder that the counter culture [of the 60's] is not equal to its task. Christianity has proved itself a genuine counter culture once before. It is the hour for the Third Race once again.

The second reaction will be from thoes who will say, How come? All this is very well in theory, but how can it be translated into action? As Bertrant Russell remarked in one of his more tolerant moods, 'The Christian principle, _Love your enemies_ is good...There is nothing to be said against it except that it is too difficult for most of us to practice sincerely.' His emphasis was not strong enough. The Christian life is not juts difficult for man; it is impossible. But it is exactly here that humanism leaves off and Christianity begins.

That is also why this uniquely 'impossible' faith--with a God who is, with an Incarnation that is earthy and historical, with a salvation that is at cross-purposes with human nature, with a Resurrection that blasts apart the finality of death--is able to provide an alternative to the sifting, settling dust of death and through a new birth open the way to life."

This book (and the citations I give here) are definately not interesting to everyone. However, to anyone who, from a Christian perspective, wants to analyize where we (as a civillization) are right now, we need to understand some of these concepts. The 60's counter culture has had a large impact on where our society is at right now. When correctly understood, the counter culture should be seen to have been responding to REAL problems (injustice, violence, unchecked rationalism, materialism, 'plastic' culture, ossified traditionalism, etc.), however the response was launched from a WRONG basis (they provided no, or at least very few satisfactory answers to the problems they saw). We are left with the shadows of that turbulent era. Do we understand it? Are we seeking to respond to the dilemas that are facing our society in 2006? Are we prepared to communicate the gospel faithfully AND understandibly to those we rub shoulders with?

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Daylight Savings Time - Business Opportunity?

This kid apparently isn't joking. Just recently he's busted into the residental clock changing market.

I'll change your clocks for half his price or a cold beer. And no I will not do VCR clocks. If your VCR isn't flashing, you are already a step ahead of the game and don't need my help.

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