Category Archives: Philosophy & Religion

Sects & Dialects: False Classifications

Dialects are simply languages which aren’t rubber-stamped as being “official” and thus not given artificial power and authority. It is not that the dialects are inferior, corrupt, poorly functional or lacking in other ways to the supposed official language, this is merely a political classification, not linguistic. So, Mandarin Chinese is the official dialect of China, Yue, Min, Hakka are also dialects — and they are all languages. Likewise, what is called English dialects in England such as Yorkshire, Cockney, Kentish and many more are as much as a language as “standard” English of BBC.

We can see the words “cult”, “heresy”, “unorthodox” and “sect” used the same way to minimize other religions. Here again, this is a political classification between religions fighting each other, it is not a religious study definition. They are all religions.

This is part of my series Comparing Language & Religion. See also: The Primitive Bias (where “primitive” is used falsely)

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A Japanese Proverb in my Dreams

A few nights ago I woke three times to the same Japanese saying in my head, “Sen-Yomi-Oni-Yomi“. Because of its persistence, I wrote it down, hoping I could then fall asleep, and I did.

Having lived in Japan for 7 years and graduated from a Japanese College, I still dream in Japanese occasionally, but I always understand the Japanese in my dreams, just as you understand dreams in your native language. Yet I had no idea what that phrase meant in Japanese. I did know, however, that it had the form of a Japanese proverb (kotowaza) and was not a sentence. Specifically, I knew that it was a Japanese 4-character saying, something the Chinese have too. But I had no idea which Chinese/Japanese characters (kanji) were involved. Unlike English and other European languages, the sounds themselves were not enough. Let me explain.

Any given sound in Japanese can have a few to a dozen of meanings associated with it. And each meaning has a different character — a kanji. In English we see this with synonyms like to, too and two have the same sound but different meanings, but these are few in English while in Japanese almost every sound has many possible meanings.

So, when a Japanese person hears an expression they don’t understand, their brain has an internal slot machine which spins characters through their minds eye until they get a combination that works — one that makes sense.

Take, for example the Japanese saying of 一寸先は闇 (issun saki wa yami) which translates as “one inch in front of you is always dark” which implies that we don’t know the future, yet we still walk forward. Or something like that. But, if I were unfamiliar with the saying, my Japanese Kanji Slot Machine may throw up various characters for the each sound. For the sound “I” (top to bottom): “stomach”, “one” or “meaning”. For sound “sun” there would only be one word possible: a Japanese ancient unit of measure of about 1.3 inches. For se sound “saki”, I might see the words “cape” or “before”. For the sound “wa” I might get “peace”, the particle marker called “wa”, or the word “speaking”. Finally for the sound “yami”, either “darkness” or “sickness”. My mind’s character slot machine would spin these until I get an answer to hopefully fit the context.

So above I illustrate the various characters that my mind started spinning for me to match the proverb in my dream: “Sen-Yomi-Oni-Yomi”. At the bottom right of that diagram, I chose a saying which these characters could make.

Question to readers: Do you prefer a different reading? What do think this was a message my dreams where sending to me?

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My Boy’s Raccoon Experience

My son was 3 years old. We were on a short walk back from visiting the river when we noticed a dead raccoon at the side of the road. Seeing it, my son asked, “Papa, what is that”? It was my son’s first encounter with death. I was a nervous about how I was going to handle it. “That is a dead raccoon, honey,” I replied. He asked if we could walk over and see it. “How’d he die, Papa?” my son asked with an innocent, sad voice and big expectant eyes. Without my thoughts collected, I thought I’d use that moment for a moral lesson. Duh. “Well, the raccoon did not listen to his father. Father raccoon always told him to hold his hand when crossing a street. He didn’t this time and got hit by a car.”

Staring at the dead roadkill raccoon with big eyes, my son then said, “Papa, can I ask you a question?” And I thought, here it comes, the life-after-death issue. I could tell by looking at his eyes that my dear little boy, my first-born child, was going to ask me a deep question. “Sure, son. What is it?” I replied expectantly. My son paused, then asked with hesitation, “May I jump on it.” Relieved of not needed to have a heavy talk, I nonethess inappropriately I let him jump.

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Python Evolution

pythonevolution3

  • Assembly: 1949 (wiki)
  • Fortran: 1954 once the most widely used language in sciences and engineering. (wiki)
  • Lisp: 1958 linked lists
  • Algol: 1958 the hoped-for Esperanto of computing world. Designed by an international Zurich-base committee as a universal, it was one of the first attempts at making software more portable. Initially called International Algebraic Language. Imperative languages.
  • Sketchpad: 1963 by Ivan Sutherland.  Ancestor of CAD (computer aided drafting). artistic and technical.
  • PHP: 1995 scripting language for web development. Developed by Rasmus Lerdorf.
  • Perl: 1987 the Swiss Army Knife of programming (aka Practical Extraction and Report Language), used for patching together different languages. Spawned a quasi-liteary culture that writes Perl haiku.
  • C#: 2000 Microsoft’s answer to Java, it is a key component of Microsoft .Net platform for Web services.
  • Simula: 1964 Popular in Europe during the 70’s – introduced objected-oriented (OO) programming.
  • Basic: 1964 although mocked by “real” programmers for its limited ability, has outlived others.
  • B: 1969 used primarily for non-numeric programming.
  • C: 1971 One of the most widely deployed languages today. Windows and Unix OSes are written mostly in C and its descendents.
  • Smalltalk: 1971 Designed and created in part for educational use, more so for constructionist learning, at the Learning Research Group (LRG) of Xerox PARC by Alan Kay, Dan Ingalls, Adele Goldberg, Ted Kaehler, Scott Wallace, and others during the 1970s.  The first language to show off the power of OO coding. (wiki)
  • Objective C: 1983
  • C++: 1983 possibly the most common language today. Adds OO to C.  Bjorn Stroustrup did C++  at Parc (he says in his first paper that he didn’t want to go as far as Smalltalk went, but just wanted to do to C what Simula did to Algol).
  • Self:  1987 a simple OO language. (wiki)
  • Tcl: 1988 Tool Command Language, “tickle.” The duct tape of programming (a scripting language for patching together different languages.
  • Dylan: 1991 (wikiDylan’s main design goal is to be a dynamic language well-suited for developing commercial software.  Developed by a group led by Apple Computer.
  • Python: 1991 popular among website builders includes features missing from Perl. (wiki)
  • Java: 1991 initially called Oak. Growing despite feuds between Sun and Microsoft. Somewhat like C++, Java allows for “write once, run anywhere” portability across the Net.
  • Visual Basic: 1991 popular for building Websites with Microsoft’s Visual Studio tools.
  • Ruby: 1993:  Designed by Yukihiro Matsumoto — Japan.  Meant to support multiple programming paradigms and scripting language. (wiki)
  • Javascript: 1995 found all over web, originally dubbed LiveScript, renamed by Netscape marketers who licensed the name to ride Java’s buzz.(wiki)

Sources: Terrance Miao, Digibarn, and Wikipedia.

Note: I made the above diagram when my son first started studying computer programming back in 2013 or so.  I’d thought I’d put it here for memory sake.  I first published it on a different site.

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Belief-isms vs Do-isms

Beliefism and Doism
Above I have made a diagram to illustrate two tensions in Abrahamic religions and their offsprings: the demand for right belief and the demand for right behavior.  I will discuss elements in future posts when I have time, or if anyone posts a question.

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Pope “Changes” The Lord’s Prayer

Introduction

In my local coffee shop today, a very religious elderly Protestant acquaintance of mine asked me, “Did you hear that the Pope is changing the Lord’s prayer”? He did not know much about the issue but added, with a tone of distain, that the Pope was trying to change the phrase “deliver us from evil” by changing the notion of evil.

Well, after he left the shop, I decided to look up the issue and see what the real story was.  And indeed, my friend’s biases made him wrong in several ways.

Anti-Papist Sentiments

I was raised Protestant, and in my youth, the tension between Catholics and Protestants was high. I grew up with lots of bad talk about Catholics, and back then, it was not about sexual abuse, but then it was tribal.  And in my youth, Catholicism focused mostly on theology and how Catholics have a dictator Pope who they almost treat like a god.

My elderly acquaintance was raised in those years too, and he is a fervent Evangelical Episcopal and thus perhaps his anti-Pope tone. His version of the story supported his distain. But he was wrong in several ways.

The Prayer

Before I go further, you should know that the prayer is one that Jesus apparently taught is disciples.  If you don’t know the prayer, let me show you the two different Bible versions of this short prayer as translated in the NIV (New International Version) and found in the Gospel of Matthew and Luke. Chapters and verses are listed:

Matthew 6 (source)

9 ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

Luke 11 (source)

2 ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’

Irony of the Prayer

This prayer is hugely ironic in that much of Protestant prayer is contrary to these supposed instructions of Jesus. Protestants love to pray out loud in large groups signaling their sanctity and they often use very long, verbose prayers with pastors often just using prayer time to keep lecturing the congregation and not talking to their god at all.

Finally, if Jesus’ purpose on Earth was suppose to be the new method to get to heaven (instead of obeying rules and making sacrifices, as was the Jewish way), why didn’t Jesus mention himself in the prayer?  Why didn’t he add at the end (as in done in most Protestant prayers) “all this I ask in Jesus’ name, and thank you for his sacrifice.”  Interestingly, see my deconversion story called, “In Jesus’ Name“.

I am sure you get the point, but I am side tracked.

What is the Lord’s Prayer?

The Christian Bible has four different stories about Jesus. The first three Matthew, Mark and Luke share lots of stuff (thus called the synoptic gospels), but each of these written for a different purpose.  The fourth Gospel is very different, written about 30-40 years after these and makes Jesus a full-blown god, but that is a different story.

The earliest synoptic story, Mark, does not have “The Lord’s Prayer”. The writer of Matthew was trying to convince Jewish believers that Christianity was predicted in Jewish scripture and tradition. Paul wanted Gentiles to expand the church but Matthew was afraid of loosing the Jews, so he rewrote Marks story with several things added or changed to fulfill Old Testament predictions about a coming Savior of the Jewish people — the Messiah — to hopeful entice more Jews into their sect. Such stories in Matthew include: Geography locations, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and a colt, Judas being paid a specific money for betrayal, Judas commits suicide, and more. (see this link)

Well, maybe Matthew thus add the Lord’s Prayer also to persuade Jews that his Christianity was really Jewish (and I am speculating here — so please comment). We know that traditional Jewish prayers, like the Lord’s Prayer, had many similar terms such as “Our Father which art in heaven” and “Hallowed be thy name, “lead us not into sin” and more. Maybe Matthew was signaling Jews saying “See, we are still Jewish”. (see this wiki link and “relation to Jewish prayer).

The majority theory is that Luke either borrowed from Matthew or both of them from another document called “Q” in theology circles (see here).

With that background, I continue.

The Real News

Apparently, this is 2017 news when the Pope felt many current translations of the Lord’s prayer are making an important mistake. (see here, The Jesuit Review)
Both Matt 6:13 and Luke 11:4 has Jesus saying to God “And lead us not into temptation,”

But the Pope tells us that God does not lead people into temptation. God does not tempt people but it is either their own desires or the Devil that tempts. Instead, the Pope feels that the more accurate translations would be “do not let us fall into temptation.”  I won’t go into the rationale for this translation — you can read the article if you wish.  For even without it, my main points have been made.

Conclusion

The Catholic Pope is not trying to change the notion of evil by “changing” the Lord’s prayer.  Instead, he is trying to tighten up Christian theology by making clear that the Christian God doesn’t tempt people into evil.

Does this matters to us religion-free folks, no but it can be fun to see how Christians criticize each other and how they tie theological knots (see my post on deceptive knots of certainty).

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Questions to Readers

Have I made any mistakes? I wrote this quickly over the two hours and probably slopped into a few mistakes.  Of course, if you are a believer, you probably feel I made huge mistakes.  But whether you agree or not, hopefully the take-home messages are clear.

All feedback welcome!

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News: Is it Bad for Your Health?

Here is some potentially bad news for you news lovers:

  1. Lifehack: Five Reasons Why Consuming News Excessively is Bad for your Health.
  2. The Guardian : News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier.
  3.  The Cheat Sheet: Is Reading the News Bad for You?

Question to readers: What do you think? Maybe there is both responsible news, and responsible reading.

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This is a part of a series of posts on News, see the index here.

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