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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   why the Old Testament had to be morally compromised
Monday, March 25 2019
At work this morning, I was drinking my usual Keurig coffee followed by Red Rose black tea and started to feel a weird druggy peace. Was this a lingering pleasant effect of the 100mg diphenhydramine I'd taken last night to sleep a sound sleep? It didn't feel quite like that. And then I realized what was going on: I'd had some kratom tea towards the end of my Friday workday, and I'd never washed the dregs of the kratom out of my Portland Fucking Oregon coffee mug. Those dregs had mixed with first the coffee and then the tea and made them more interesting pharmacologically. This was the earliest in the day I'd ever had kratom, and the day was going well, so I stuck with it, mixing more water and black tea into those dregs and drinking them throughout the day. It wasn't the most productive workday I'd ever had, but that was only because I was debugging some nasty data import issues.

When I got home from work, Gretchen had recently finished a one-on-one conversation session with Javier, our old Spanish teacher from the early 2000s, Since getting back from Costa Rica, Gretchen has been paying Javier to have speak with her in Spanish so as to better hone her fluency. At some point Javier had noticed a painting of a rotund woman laying naked on the grass with some trees in the background. The painting used to hang in the bedroom of Gretchen's parents and been given to her as part of their move to the Watergate. Javier was certain the painting must be a Botero, since it was in exactly that style. But if it was a Botero, it would be worth millions of dollars. Gretchen looked for a signature on it but could find none. So then she emailed her parents to find out the painting's provenance. They said they'd bought it in Italy and didn't know anything else about it. In hopes of learning more, I uploaded a photo of the painting to Google Image Search (which can search for things somehow by what they look like). It found zero matches, implying that the painting is not a copy of a known Botero and so is either an actual Botero or a painting in the style of Botero. The likelihood is far more for the latter, but we have no way to know, for now.

Our painting in the style of Botero. Click to enlarge.

When I set off into the forest after work on my usual firewood salvaging foray, I neglected to set up an appropriate broadcast from my computer first, so I was stuck listening to the radio. So yet again I was listening to The Sound of Life, the local Christian pop radio station (mostly so I wouldn't have to wander too far from my pirate radio station's frequency; the FM tuner on my headset is tuned with an audio-only interface, making it hard to travel long distances along the FM spectrum). I've written in the past about the narrow shallowness of the lyrical themes in this music, and I've probable touched on how unimaginative its production sounds. In this way it's a bit like country music. Being geared to an unadventurous demographic, the production has to be immediately accessible and familiar. It's so much this way with Christian pop that it all sort of sounds the same. It's all very mid-tempo and major key. And they widely share a number of studio production tricks, particularly the use of what I call the "echo over a telephone" effect. This is when some key lyric is repeated like an echo, but with aggressive filtering of both the high and low frequencies so that it sounds like the echo is arriving through a telephone earpiece. This effect may or may not have been common in pop music in the late 90s and early 2000s, but in 2019 it's in almost every Christian pop song.
Back at the house, I had to clear that muddled thinking from my brain by listening to more of the Atheist Experience on YouTube. One of the points the host Matt Dillahunty likes to hammer away at is the Bible's many endorsements of (in the Old Testament) and indifference to (in the New Testament) slavery. Slavery is a pretty morally-straightforward practice. Civilized people in modern times find it abhorrent. The fact that the Bible does not is really the only evidence one needs to demonstrate that Christianity does not sit on a morally-sound foundation. Callers into the program like to find ways to weasel out of this Biblical failing, claiming that the New Testament fixed all the problems of the Old. But (as Dillahunty is quick to point out), Jesus specifically claimed that he hadn't come to change existing Biblical law. And besides, the God of the Old Testament is supposedly eternal. Why would a morally-perfect eternal deity have ever endorsed something as obviously wrong as slavery? The answer, of course (and this isn't something I've heard Dillahunty discuss) is that in order for a religion like Judaism to have survived long enough to have given birth to Christianity, it had to be pro-slavery. In pre-modern times, slavery was a fact on the ground in nearly all advanced civilizations. To have condemned it would've been like condemning the growing of crops. The result would've been an unpopular Judaism, and it would've been replaced by something else. To survive long enough to calve off the most widespread moral frameworks of the present, Judaism had to be morally flawed, and all its descendent religions had to be tainted by those flaws.

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