Creating a climate of fear: Does host desecration really demand a terroristic response?

August 16, 2008

Father Joe took issue with P. Z. Myers’s complaints about the Central Florida University incident at a Catholic mass held on campus. That’s fair. Anyone can see why a Catholic priest would find Myers’ complaints to be at least a sharp rebuke, if not offensive.

But Father Joe is off the track, following others. He insists that the church has no reason to call for calm, that the church is absolutely blameless if others, like Bill Donohue, either advocate violence or otherwise carry things beyond the pale.

In comments, the entire discussion grows very disturbing. Father Joe now claims that Myers encouraged acts of violence against the Catholic Church — a patently false claim — and he and others now list any act of vandalism against a Catholic Church, and blame it on Myers (see also here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). (Nor will Father Joe allow me to comment on that thread any more — the old fingers-in-ears defense against reason and criticism. Censorship is one of the first signs of totalitarian idiocy.)

Casting blame falsely — there’s a commandment against such action. Do you think these guys know about it?

The acts of vandalism, burglary and destruction noted at Father Joe’s blog, especially those in churches, are grotesque demonstrations of depravity. The culprits should be caught and punished. They aren’t the fault of science, they aren’t the fault of a guy who asks Catholics to back off of terroristic threats. From the use of religious symbols, we can be quite certain that few if any are committed by atheists.

Ironic, no? Asked to renounce terrorism, Father Joe claims to be a victim. Then he stirs up a mob with tales to cast blame on those who asked for calm and reason. If it’s true, as Father Joe claims, that “Dr. P.Z. Myers’ crusade against religion illustrates defects in civility, empathy and imagination,” then it is equally true that a Father Joe-led jihad against civility, empathy and imagination illustrates defects in religion.

Nuts. We can’t get these people to stop venting and pounding their breasts, let alone talk. Dare we let them alone in a room with one another?

We’ve seen it before. Beirut. Sarajevo. Berlin. Berlitz. Brussels. Segovia. On St. Bartholomew’s Day. In the Cultural Revolution. Madness creeps in, and soon is epidemic.

We wish worship services could proceed without interruption, without insult, with joy and encouragement of good deeds. We wish religionists would demonstrate the love they claim to seek, and that others would show it to them.

Some people are too busy nailing delinquents to crosses to stop and do the right thing. Can we at least lock up their hammers?

I wish Myers would apologize for unnecessary offense he may have made. He won’t. I wish the crazies calling for his scalp would apologize for the unnecessary offenses they may have made by insisting others grant their faith privileges it should not have, and especially for the unnecessary offenses from the threats by their fellow travelers. They won’t. ‘We were insulted. Death threats should be expected. If I didn’t personally make the threat, I’m not responsible.’ No one is a keeper of anyone’s brother. Claims of not being part of the mob are offered as reasons for why nothing was done to stop the mob.

If I had an answer for how to stop stupid bellicosity, I’d be on my way to Moscow and Tbilisi right now. Any suggestions out there?

_ _.

Update: Father Joe responded: “Urging people to steal hosts and to desecrate them is the sort of thing once reserved to crazy people and dabblers in the occult. It can escalate into all sorts of other crimes.”

Coming from anyone else other than a priest, that could easily be construed as a threat. Unfortunately, Father Joe gives us little ground to argue it should not be so considered in this case.

Suddenly Christian offers a cool, pleasant rebuttal and diversion from the whole affair; seriously, go read it.


Spectacular waterfall discovered in Peru – adventurers off to document it

August 16, 2008

Gocta was unknown until a few years ago — to the outside world. Local Peruvians knew about it, but said little. Gocta turned out to be the third highest waterfall in the world

Lightning has struck Peru again: A week ago an expedition left paved-road civilization to document another very high waterfall, perhaps higher than Gocta, whose existence was only recently discovered, outside of local residents — who said nothing because they feared the reaction of the outside world, or they just didn’t think that anyone else would be particularly interested. The expedition includes “representatives of the sub-regional direction of Bagua Grande and Utcubamba, from Utcubamba’s National Institute of Culture, a topographer of the provincial municipality and a cameraman.”

Perus Gocta, the third-highest waterfall in the world - Alberto Pintado photo

Peru's Gocta, the third-highest waterfall in the world - Alberto Pintado photo

A local explorer, Obed Cabanillas Silva, who seems to be coordinating local efforts to make the cataract known, said there are “stone structures” on the path to the waterfall. Could there be undiscovered, uncharted ruins of former How does the rest of the world miss a waterfall higher than a 250-story building? Here’s a Google Earth challenge — how many other giant waterfalls are there in Peru, “undiscovered” by the rest of the world? Remember the recent discovery of an impact crater in Australia?

The expedition of “discovery” set off a week ago — can you beat them to the thing, on Google Earth, or with any other LandSat image? (The few pieces of data on the specific location I have are at the bottom of this post.)

Gocta itself came to light in 2005 when a German engineer working on a water project close by, persuaded the Peruvian government to survey the uncharted, unnamed waterfall. When the surveyors came back with a report the thing was 2,532 feet hight, the German, Stefan Ziemandorff, checked his National Geographic Guide, figured it was third largest in the world, and had the good sense to call a press conference to let everyone else know. (Ziemandorff first heard of the cataract in 2002.)

World Waterfall Database is more picky. They rank Gocta at #16 right now — something about free fall, flow amounts, other measures.

The discovery of Gocta produced documentation of other spectacular water features nearby, Catarata Yumbilla (870 m) and Cataratas la Chinata (580 m). One might wonder about what methodical search of the area might find.

Read the rest of this entry »


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