Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Who's there?

I recently came across a great collection of horror shorts on YouTube called the Who's There Film Challenge. The following film won an award for best director and certainly gave me the chills. I'll plow my way through the others soon.

Condescending: A Definition...

  1. 1.
    having or showing an attitude of patronizing superiority.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The colonoscopy that never happened...

After being diagnosed with diverticular disease last year I was required to have a colonoscopy. This is not standard practice but as I had a perforation in my colon it is necessary for them to get a better idea of the damage done. Luckily for me it looks as if it is minimal as the perforation didn't require surgery and sealed itself. I was very lucky indeed. The 1st of April was the appointed day and I would have posted this then but I figured everyone would think it was some sort of April Fool's joke. Alas, it isn't. On Monday night I started to drink this stuff called Moviprep which completely empties your insides out. It was like drinking a citrus flavoured syrup with an underlying saltiness. An hour passed and nothing happened, then I got a subtle rumbling which indicated that something was on the way. Eventually I decided to go and sit on the toilet for a while when it finally happened. I felt like I was going to cause a flood with all the liquid excrement that shot out of me with fierce, forceful vigour. I thought that God has chosen to flood the world once again and that this time the world would be flooded by my arse. In less than an hour I had lost over 5 pounds. That's right, I weighed myself before and after on this one.

After a couple of hours things started to settle down and I was able to leave the toilet and go to bed. The worse thing was that I had to get up at 6am and drink another litre of this stuff and do it all again...albeit much less violently this time. We got to the hospital around 12 and I was shown to a cubicle where I had to answer a variety of questions. Around 1.30pm I got into my robe and at 2 I was wheeled up to the colonoscopy room. Screens everywhere, tubes everywhere and machines that go 'ping'. They hooked me up to everything and were getting ready to give me the sedation and I was in an extreme state of nervousness. They went through my medical history and two things caught their attention. Sleep apnoea and heart arrhythmia. Both of which haven't been fully investigated yet. Yesterday I had a heart monitor on to measure the arrhythmia and I'm still waiting for the appointment for the sleep clinic (three years and counting). This made them nervous.They called down to theatre to see if they could do it there. They couldn't. They then called an anaesthetist to come and see me and see what they needed to do. After half an hour of waiting someone arrived who made the decision to cancel the appointment until the arrhythmia and apnoea had been fully investigated. So after all the worry, laxatives and time spent on the toilet I was sent home with nothing done to me. I'm not complaining as it was all for my own safety and the staff were excellent and extremely pleasant and helpful.

The downside is that I have another night of laxatives to look forward to later in the year. The upside is that they didn't consider my colonoscopy of high importance so they were happy to send me home. So, more restricted diet and continued weight-loss is the order of the day. 2014 is the year I finally get my health sorted out!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Book review: 'The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptic's View' by Aaron Adair #3.

I should begin with an apology to the author here for taking so long to review his book. It may seem like laziness on my part, but reading this blog I'm sure you can see that circumstances often overtake me, leaving me unable to do necessary work in my life. Needless to say, I'm trying to get on top of it.

Now, to the review.

Chapter 2: Methodological Difficulties.

This chapter moves on to consider certain methodological difficulties surrounding the Star of Bethlehem account. The first being the uncertainty surrounding the date of Jesus' birth. This was also covered in the last chapter. The differences between the two accounts in Matthew and Luke cannot be ignored yet need to be addressed. As Adair points out Luke lacks much of Matthew's account and he hints that this may be because Luke was trying to be more true to history, yet this is inadequately explored in my opinion. That Matthew is aping the Pentateuch is well known and shows his account to be more literary than historical. A brief explanation of this would have greatly enhanced Adair's argument here by showing why Luke may have left these elements out of his account, rather than merely speculating about it. However, this is a small issue in the grander scheme and one that Adair more than makes up for.  As I've said before, I can be picky.

What follows in a fascinating look into astrology. As Adair recognises, all Star scholarships rests on the notion that the Magi saw something in the sky that made them believe that a king was being born and that this king was Jewish. Adair discusses some studies that have been carried out that have shown that astrology is only as accurate as chance. This, then, is problematic for the nativity accounts. Interestingly, Adair gives ancient evidence to the same effect. Adair also introduces geographical astrology, a term I admit to being ignorant about, which is the notion that a particular star sign can influence particular geographical regions. This, as you can imagine, may be important to the present study. As the studies Adair referenced in regards to astrology, geographical astrology is plagued by a similarity to chance. Few agree on what star sign is influential in differing areas. Further clouding the matter is that there are many forms of astrology - which one was being used? The end result of this is, is that there is no way to determine how Eastern astrologers interpreted star charts. Zoroastrian Magi had diverging views on astrology which adds further fog to the issue.

Next, Adair turns to an important question, were the authors of the Nativity stories trying to tell us history? Was that their purpose? As shown, the Nativity account screams with similarities to literature and stories from its time. Is there any reason to think that it is anything else? Further compounding this question is that Matthew does not tell us what his sources are and how he used them. Jesus was not famous until his ministry, there would, therefore, be no source for his birth unless there are eye-witnesses talking to Matthew or texts available to Matthew based on eye-witness accounts. Adair points out that even Suetonius, who is not considered as a reliable historian, uses multiple sources and presents many stories and discusses them. Matthew does not do that at all. How then can Matthew be considered a reliable historical source. These facts have not been fully considered in Star of Bethlehem scholarship according to Adair resulting in a lack of awareness of the text and leading to vast assumptions regarding its historicity.  

Adair ends by leaving these issues to one side to progress further into the question of the Star. These methodological issues deal more with the text. Some form of astronomical event could have happened, this does not add weight to the possible historicity of Matthew's gospel. It is possible that an event was added to the story, or a later event inspired it. Adair is now well poised to explore the nature of the star event in more detail. One thing that really comes over in this book again and again is the style. While it is a serious academic piece of research with all the weight of well done research behind it, you never feel bogged down in arguments or secondary literature. It's gripping and I'm always sorry when I leave it and inevitably don't return for a month or two. Hopefully not this time.