Wednesday, November 23, 2005

An Age Old Question

The question of whether it is right for a Christian to go to war has been with us for a very, very long time. Believers as early as the second century were against taking part in the army.

I have heard some very good arguments for Christians being good citizens and defending their country. I realise that there's a difference between killing and murder. I do sympathise with people who are made to go through a horrendous legal battle because they've killed someone in defence of their own life, or that of their family.

So where do I stand? I would not want to own a gun, even to use for self defence. I think I'd prefer to be killed than to kill (I said "I think" -- if I were really faced with that choice, it's hard to say how I'd see things). Because the Bible, particlulary in the Noahide Law, specifies that a murderer should be put to death, I do agree with the ethics of capital punishment. However, I would have problems with shooting someone to kill just because they're on the wrong side in a military conflict. On the other hand, I also don't know how the world Jewish population could have been saved had someone not gone to war against Hitler.

Having said all that, Scott McKnight has a compelling argument for Pasivism.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Hand Cranked Laptops for 3rd World School Children

If you're interested in leveling the playing field and empowering the average person, even in the third world, check out this interesting Article from Wired Magazine:

The MIT Media Lab and Wired magazine founder stood shoulder to shoulder with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to unveil the first working prototype of the "$100 laptop" -- currently more like $110 -- at the U.N. World Summit on the Information Society here Wednesday. The Linux-based machine instantly became the hit of the show, and Thursday saw diplomats and dignitaries, reporters and TV cameras perpetually crowded around the booth of One Laptop Per Child -- Negroponte's nonprofit -- craning for a glimpse of the toy-like tote...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

How Christian is America?

Len, at NextReformation points to an excellent article on the state of the Church in America, By Bill McKibben in Harper's Magazine. It's entitled, The Christian Paradox.
Depending on which poll you look at and how the question is asked, somewhere around 85 percent of us call ourselves Christian. Israel, by way of comparison, is 77 percent Jewish.
However, he also points out that America's favourite scripture verse is, "God helps those who help themselves" ... which isn't from scripture. It's from Benjamin Franklin, who's ideas weren't all that Biblical.

The following quote probably sums it up:
America is simultaneously the most professedly Christian of the developed nations and the least Christian in its behavior.
Anyway, have a read...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

How not to develope a plot for your next novel

... or perhaps it's how to develop a bad plot ... or how to emulate those authors that make millions writing stories with weak plots ...

It's entitled The Well-Tempered Plot Device, by Nick Lowe. It's a humourously written critical opinion of trashy but popular books, but a very good read for aspiring authors. I was pointed to it by David Langford's blog in the e-zine, Infinate Matrix an online Science Fiction mag.

I'd differ from the examples Nick Low brings out in saying that often, a plot device is a good thing, if used in moderation, and that authors like Tolkien and George Lucas use them well. The Ring, in Lord of the Rings, is a plot device, or The Force, in Star Wars. Other examples he uses are red or green Kryptonite, from D.C. Comix' Superman. Poor plotting would be where the author uses it like a cruch. Nick Low refers to powerful objects like the Ring of Power, as "plot vouchers". In a tongue in cheak manner, he says:
I do recommend the use of plot vouchers to your attention if you're at all interested in writing multi-volume epics of quest and adventure, because they're terrifically easy to use and the readers never complain. You can issue your hero with a handy talisman of unspecified powers at the beginning of volume one, and have him conveniently remember it at various points over the succeeding volumes when he finds himself surrounded by slavering troglodytes or whatever, with no obligation to explain it until the series proves unsuccessful enough to require winding up and the loose ends tying.
He brings out a few examples where successful authors have gone over the top in cashing in plot vouchers.

Anyway, click on the above for a good read...