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The Next Phase (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 24) Ghost Ro Meets Ghost LaForge

Rewatching ST:TNG A transporter accident causes LaForge and Ro to wander the Enterprise-D like ghosts. The teaser begins in medias res, with the Enterprise responding to a Romulan distress call. While prepping to beam over, Ro snarks at Riker under her breath, but backs down when challenged. The Romulans, who seem almost overwhelmed by the disaster, readily agree to send an important part back to the Enterprise “for replication.” That’s…

As White Evangelical Vaccine Refusal Reminds Us, Sometimes Religion is the Problem

When reality contradicts the truths that define group membership, the evangelical community circles the wagons and puts the power and influence of its tight institutional network behind the assertion that, in fact, the emperor is wearing clothes, and anyone who says otherwise is a dirty godless liberal intent on persecuting Christians. How do I justify such a frank, unflattering assertion? Well, I’m not only well-versed in the relevant data and literature,…

Gender and Language — Revisiting Advice I Posted in 1998

When I was in college and active in a Catholic student group, I remember noticing that a second edition of the hymnal Glory and Praise rewrote lyrics, replaced many generic references to “men” or “brothers” with synonyms like “all” or “fam’ly” (elided to two syllabus).  Sometimes this meant rewriting the rhymes, or occasionally leaving a line that referred to “brothers” and “sons” and adding a parallel verse that addressed “sisters”…

What are ‘Judeo-Christian values’? Analyzing a divisive term

block of American society. ­But for critics of how the term is used today, Judeo-Christian is vague, historically flawed and even inflammatory. These opposing views reflect a deep rift in American society and illuminate very different fundamental political beliefs.

“This is a term defined by exclusion,” said Shalom Goldman, a professor at Middlebury College in Vermont, arguing that the term is often used to reject secular values and Muslims.

“It’s essentially saying our values are not the values of the Enlightenment or the Constitution, but instead our values are the values of the Bible,” he said.

Rabbi Jack Moline, president of the Washington-based Interfaith Alliance, called the term a “generalization” and said it is one “Christians in particular use to put a patina of universality on a certain Christian culture in the United States.”

Given a chance to explain his support for a YouTuber who warns about alien DNA, Trump abruptly ends press conference

After mounting a half-hearted defense of a woman who says masks don’t work, that there’s a cure for COVID-19, and that doctors make medicine from DNA from aliens and that experts are working on a vaccine that makes you immune from becoming religious, Trump ends a press conference by walking out of the room. Background on Stella Immanuel, a pediatrician and minister who has voiced professional opinions about medical maladies…

Episcopal bishop on President Trump: ‘Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence’

“I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop,” Budde said. She excoriated the president for standing in front of the church — its windows boarded up with plywood — holding up a Bible, which Budde said “declares that God…

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Coronavirus: advice from the Middle Ages for how to cope with self-isolation

Like many people, I curate my social media posts. After a month of coronavirus lockdown, I’ve been curating more than usual. I have spent (many) sleepless nights scrolling through news reports in slack-jawed horror; I’ve (often) felt overwhelmed; I’ve lost my temper at my family (regularly). I haven’t posted about such events because I don’t want to dwell on them (not here, anyway). Of course the consequence of all of…

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Who Watches the Watchers (ST:TNG Season Three Episode 4) Rationalist, talky mythbusting

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. After a primitive, rationalist society mistakes Federation technology for supernatural power, Picard must do whatever it takes to undo the resulting cultural contamination. Fortunately for Picard, that involves lots of talking. A grim scene in sickbay memorably demonstrates that humans in the 24th century can sometimes delay but cannot defeat death. A cleverly subversive climax has Picard calmly determined to deliver the Mintakans from…

My Encounter with EpochTimes.com

Peter and I spoke to a reporter from EpochTimes.com after the Shen Yun show yesterday. I said I was interested to hear the group’s message in favor of religious freedom, and was surprised to encounter the anti-Communist stance. After I found this picture on the EpochTimes.com website, I scanned through its news feed and noted its headlines looked somewhat favorable to Donald Trump, noting his participation in this weekend’s March…

Shen Yun Chinese dance troupe

One of seven touring groups devoted to sharing China’s traditional culture. The name means “beauty of divine dance.” Much emphasis on acrobatics and fluid motions. A recurring theme was interaction with the divine, and one number set in the present day focused on two brothers, one a police officer and one who falls in love with a woman who practices Falun Gong —  a forbidden faith which, at least as…

‘Heil Trump’ and an anti-gay slur were scrawled on an Indiana church right after Trump’s election. The investigation led to an unlikely suspect — and the discovery of a hate crime hoax.

A well-written news story, covering a sensitive subject. The graffiti in rural Indiana became a national sensation, part of a string of high-profile hate crime reports in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory. Late-night television host Stephen Colbert featured an image of one of the tagged walls during a monologue. The church’s priest, the Rev. Kelsey Hutto, appeared on CNN to champion the values of St. David’s, an island of…