* Stephen Kelly, a freelance journalist who still seems to like really big glasses, writes about the deification of Dr Who, which did become a key feature of the show under Russell T Davies, and continues under Steven Moffat. He writes:
The Doctor, of course, isn't marketed outright as a messianic figure but it's all there: "the lonely god", more of an idea than a man, who resurrects himself in a crucifix position; who has, literally, defeated the devil, resisted temptation and forgiven his greatest enemy; "he's like fire and ice and rage", it was once said. "He's like the night and the storm in the heart of the sun. He's ancient and forever. He burns at the centre of time and can see the turn of the universe. And … he's wonderful."All quite true, but it has really started to weigh the show down.
Even the main premise of the show is built upon the concept of existential salvation: the idea that one day this wonderful being will drop out of the sky to rescue us from the crippling tedium of adult life, to make us believe that there is more to existence than work, bills and over-thinking popular tea-time television shows.
* Denis Alexander (a British biologist and Christian) has a short but pretty good attempt at reconciling Genesis with evolution and atonement through Christ. Here's the key passage:
The tradition of interpreting the early chapters of Genesis figuratively – as a theological essay, not as science – goes back to two great thinkers from Alexandria: the first-century Jewish philosopher Philo, and the third-century church father Origen. In 248 Origen wrote that Genesis references to Adam are "not so much of one particular individual as of the whole human race". Figurative understandings of the Genesis text have been part of mainstream theology ever since.I'm not sure I'm entirely convinced, but it seems this is a summary of an argument he puts in an entire book on the subject, and it may be worth the effort.
The first mention of Adam in the Bible is clearly referring to humankind (Genesis 1:26-27) and the definite article in front of Adam in chapters 2 and 3 – "the man" – suggests a representative man, because in Hebrew the definite article is not used for personal names, with Eve being the representative woman.
The Genesis narrative tells the story of humankind going their way rather than God's way. On the day that Adam and Eve sin, they do not drop dead but proceed to have a big family, albeit now alienated from friendship with God, causing spiritual death. Nowhere does the Bible teach that physical death originates with the sin of Adam, nor that sin is inherited from Adam, as Augustine maintained. But the New Testament does teach that humankind stays true to type – all people sin by their own free will – and Christ dies for the sins of all. Christ is the second Adam who opens up the way back to friendship with God through his sacrifice for sin on the cross. The result is the "at-one-ment" that the first Adam – Everyman – is unable to accomplish by his own efforts.
* On a lighter note, kind of, a writer looks at the latest report of Japanese retreat from relationships, and brought to my attention this story from earlier in the year:
Virtual girlfriends became a sensation last summer, when Japanese game-maker Konami released its second-generation of its popular Love Plus, called, aptly, Love Plus +, for the Nintendo DS gaming system. Konami skillfully arranged for an otherwise deadbeat beach resort town called Atami to host a Love Plus + holiday weekend. Players were invited to tote their virtual girlfriends, via the gaming console, to the actual resort town to cavort for a weekend in romantic bliss. The promotion was absurdly successful, with local resort operators reporting that it was their best weekend in decades.He ends on this point:
"Maybe we're just advanced human beings," says a Japanese friend of mine over dinner this week in Tokyo, who won't let me use her real name. She is an attractive, 40-something editor at one of Japan's premier fashion magazines, and she is still single. "Maybe," she adds, "we've learned how to service ourselves."Seriously, if research leads to more advanced ways for men to derive more, ahem, pleasure from virtual interactions with their electronic girlfriends, Japan is over with faster than even currently anticipated.
The comments following the article, from (I assume) mainly English people complaining about the difficulties in relationships indicate that the Japanese may just be a bit ahead of the curve.
* Finally, the marvellously named Morven Crumlish talks about the Scottish celebration of Hogmanay (the New Year party which is, apparently, pretty full on in the drinking and fighting.
Interestingly, I see that they share the Japanese idea of cleaning up the house for the New Year.
But in comments, there are many people of Scottish heritage who say they are over the whole thing. I liked this one:
Call me ignorant, but I can't say I've heard of "first-footing" before, so here we go:
"First footing" (that is, the "first foot" in the house after midnight) is still common in Scotland. To ensure good luck for the house, the first foot should be male, dark (believed to be a throwback to the Viking days when blond strangers arriving on your doorstep meant trouble) and should bring symbolic coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and whisky. These days, however, whisky and perhaps shortbread are the only items still prevalent (and available).The website I got that from goes on to explain some ever odder old Scottish New Year's traditions:
The traditional New Year ceremony of yesteryear would involve people dressing up in the hides of cattle and running around the village being hit by sticks. The festivities would also include the lighting of bonfires, rolling blazing tar barrels down the hill and tossing torches. Animal hide was also wrapped around sticks and ignited which produced a smoke that was believed to be very effective to ward off evil spirits. The smoking stick was also known as a Hogmanay.
Some of these customs do continue, especially in the small, older communities in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland where tradition, along with language and dialect are kept alive and well. On the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, the young boys form themselves into opposing bands, the leader of each wears a sheep skin, while a member carries a sack. The bands move through the village from house to house reciting a Gaelic rhyme. On being invited inside, the leader walks clockwise around the fire, while everyone hits the skin with sticks. The boys would be given some bannocks - fruit buns - for their sack before moving on to the next house.
OK. I think we've all learnt something today. Unless, of course, you are smarter and better read than me.