Letter from James
Of This and That: On
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Sites Seen in My Virtual Wanderings
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This page is basically a "dump" where I keep links that I found. When the page gets large, I'll just add page two, page three, etc., without any attempt at organization. Browse away!
November 3, 2004
Kerry Thornley: A piece by Brian Doherty (of the bookblog) about a print-on-demand biography of Kerry Thornley, of whom Doherty says "he invented one of the 20th century’s more influential religions, helped launch ’60s-style sex-and-nature neopaganism, and was a major force behind the first modern libertarian ’zine."
More on Kerry Thornley:
More on Discordianism, the "influential religion" Thornley invented:
More Thornley-related stuff:
Catching up with The Bishop: First, I want to introduce you to the man who has sent me so many bizarre religious links. Brethren and sisterns, I give you Bishop Simeon. And here's some of what he has given me lately:
The Bishop introduced Statue Molesters with the comment: "Temples, ha! Pilgrimages, ha! You pervert!" Oh, he knows me so well.
Glyn Hughes' Squashed Philosophers: From Plato to Sartre, 29 of the great thinkers of the Western World in extremely condensed form (Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Idea in 12 minutes!) Hughes' description: "The books which defined the way The West thinks now, condensed and abridged to keep the substance, the style and the quotes, but ditching all that irritating verbiage."
September 10, 2004
"Let's build a statue and burn it": Nearly twenty years ago, with these disingenuous words, a major post-modern free-form religious event was born. It's something I missed on September 6 (America's Labor Day) on the Calendar last week: another installment of the artistic Pagan event known as "Burning Man," wherein a group of aging hippies and neo-hippies--the next generation--create a desert encampment, build a wooden colossus, and then set it on fire.
(Environmental purists take note: the organizers proudly write, "According to the Bureau of Land Management, Burning Man is the largest Leave No Trace event in the world."--over 30,000 people in 2003.)
Here's a history (follow the links on the page to continue the story); the main page; and a "bookblog" by a guy who wrote an "unofficial history of the event." (This last page has a Flash-using design The Temple Guy drools over.)
On the "lighter" side of Burning Man: something that started as a free-form, anarchic event has turned (for very good reason) into something of a police state. Read The Ten Commandments, with links to more rules on Commerce & Concessions, Garbage Disposal, Burn Scar Prevention, and Noise Control. Or go to the misnamed "Community" page, or the more-aptly named Protecting the Environment. Starting to see what I mean?
And despite all these pages and pages of Draconian (but, as I said, necessary) rules and regulations, the organizers write:
Nevertheless, it is the quintessential California event (despite its relocation to Nevada), and a prime example of how:
If you have read none of the links so far, read this one; it will give you the Big Picture.
From the "I don't know whether to laugh or cry" Dept.: This entry from The Bishop on The Presidential Prayer Team leaves me in a dither. Didn't Jesus say something about prayer being a private matter? Well, at least they're non-partisan.
Also from The Bishop, on a more practical note: Headshaver.org. It's heartwarming to get such encouragement from a man whose sig line used to contain this quote from Dave Berry: " There's just no two ways around it. When black men shave their heads, they look cool. When white men shave their heads they look like giant thumbs."
Chinese Buddhist Terminology:
For writer's: A great article on punctuation, especially the misuse of apostrophe's. Although it's ostensibly a review of the book Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, the last two thirds' are really a philosophical reflection on both punctuation and that elusive term, "voice." Its well worth a look. Or two looks'. In addition, check out the Apostrophe Protection Society. These guy's are serious!
September 3, 2004
Some straightforward stuff:
Megasites: BIG, BIG websites that pursue the themes I love:
India: Found while researching my new Calendar of Sacred Events
Instructions on doing puja (devotions) at home From an excellent book on the elephant-headed god Ganesha
The temples of India: An absolutely amazing site, allegedly the work of one man
Mark Twain on India: Twain covered a lot of ground in his Following the Equator, literally and figuratively. You can download the full text, or go a few chapters at a time (smaller files); here's the Table of Contents to help you decide what to download; the India material starts at Chapter XXXVIII (that's 38, I think), preceded by some stuff on Australia, New Zealand, and other boring places. But it's all Twain, so read it all if you have the time.
August 27, 2004
American Buddhism: A question that continues to intrigue many of us is: How will Buddhism make the transition from an Eastern belief to a Western one? There are huge, seemingly-insurmountable, issues: authoritarianism vs. individualism; egolessness vs. ego; "mind over matter" vs. hard-core materialism, etc.
The American Buddha site doesn't solve the problem. However, it would provide a lot of material for anyone doing a serious study of the subject. The creators were long-time American practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism; their writings are filled with invective (they were burned), but through it all shines a continuing love for the Dharma despite the vehicles in which it was delivered. Here's a quote: "The orthodox tradition is a lotus pond hiding a tar pit filled with the bones of ignorant creatures, drawn to the cool, serene waters of the lake, who failed to judge the danger. In our search for the water of spiritual inspiration, we must learn to be very careful."
The link given is to the "Site Map," a great read and a good introduction to the site's contents and point-of-view. Along the side of the page, check out the contents of the "ABOL"--The American Buddha On-line Library--with the likes of Lucretius, Thomas Paine, William Blake, Mark Twain--and Timothy Leary! The Bulletin Boards are also of interest.
Map Quiz: Asia-watchers: How's your geography? Test it! Follow the links to tests for other regions of the world.
Her Popeness: I have long been fascinated by the story of Pope Joan. She is alleged to have been a female occupant of the Chair of Saint Peter in the ninth century. An excellent, scholarly look at the evidence is found in The Female Pope, a previously-published book now out-of-print, and re-published on-line by the authors (a healthy trend, I say).
Hong Kong religion: Two things from The Big White Guy, who runs a world-renowned homepage (not a blog, he insists) over in Hong Kong.
First is a list of Chinese festivals (especially Hong-Kong-oriented) for the year 2004; the other is an index page of his photographs. I read The BWG almost daily (I'd like to start "The xxx Guy" webring), and was drawn to the photo album because he mentioned having shot some temples. Scroll down to the "Temples" section and browse a while. (He did get a bit carried away with the incense at the Man Mo Temple, though!)
The Great Wild Wall: A buen amigo in the States (well, actually, right now in Costa Rica) has suggested that we head toward Beijing later this year and hike some un-restored sections of the Great Wall. In researching this, I found the Wild Wall site. It's impressive both for its material on the Wall, and for the story of a guy from Britain who has become the Wall's foremost protector.
Not, DEFINITELY not, for the faint of heart: Or for Christians with no sense of humor. First up is the rantings of the Oz Heretic, who has written a nasty history of Christianity, as well as interviews with God, Jesus, Mary--and--could it be--Satan? (Seriously, don't even look if you think you'll be offended. Even the portraits are dodgy.) Second is The Swearing Jesus, whose name says it all.
These pages contain material which some will find offensive. I have no intention of demeaning anyone's religion. I only included them because (a) I find some of what is said by the Oz Heretic to be intriguing, and (b) I personally think the Jesus thing is funny, even if outrageous. So there.
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