What the Hell is Going on in the World? LINKS 01/22/18


 

BELIEF

A review of author Jeffrey J. Kripal’s new book, “Secret Body: Erotic and Esoteric Currents in the History of Religions”:

Above all, Secret Body is about the perennially controversial, yet inescapable topic of belief. As a critical theorist, Kripal prompts us to reflect on our personal assumptions, as well as the shared assumptions that create and maintain our institutions: materialism is called out as dogma, at odds with the spirit of empirical inquiry, as is unreflective religious faith. And though he often defaults to a mystic monotheism, Kripal also recognizes the monotheism-atheism binary as a limited and limiting construct.

Kripal’s book is intended for the intellectually and spiritually curious, not in the least because it’s so wide-ranging. Reading it is like gaining private access to a Victorian mansion, with countless rooms filled with elaborate furnishings and curiosities from all over the world. Just when you begin to wonder if you’ve traveled back in time, however, you open a door and find a biotech lab. Down the hall, a room dedicated to UFO research, and an elevator leading down to a cutting-edge telecommunication and data storage facility. There’s just so much to take in.


 

CHRISTIANITY

Everything you know about the Gospel of Paul is wrong:

Paul’s…teachings…as taken directly from the Greek of his letters, emphasise neither original guilt nor imputed righteousness (he believed in neither), but rather the overthrow of bad angels. A certain long history of misreadings – especially of the Letter to the Romans – has created an impression of Paul’s theological concerns so entirely alien to his conceptual world that the real Paul occupies scarcely any place at all in Christian memory. It is true that he addresses issues of ‘righteousness’ or ‘justice’, and asserts that this is available to us only through the virtue of pistis – ‘faith’ or ‘trust’ or even ‘fidelity’. But for Paul, pistis largely consists in works of obedience to God and love of others. The only erga, ‘works’, which he is anxious to claim make no contribution to personal sanctity, are certain ‘ritual observances’ of the Law of Moses, such as circumcision or kosher dietary laws. This, though, means that the separation between Jews and gentiles has been annulled in Christ, opening salvation to all peoples; it does not mean (as Paul fears some might imagine) that God has abandoned his covenant with Israel.


 

FAMILY

Study finds that female family members are the most “difficult”:

While about 15 percent of relationships were dubbed as difficult, the authors found that close female relatives — mothers, sisters, and wives — led the way in that category. It’s very likely, however, that women ranked more prominently because they tend to be the ones who involve themselves more deeply in a person’s life, while men tend to be more passive.


 

FINANCE

Bank of America has stopped providing free checking to accounts with low balances:

This month, all remaining eBanking customers with the Charlotte, N.C., lender were switched into accounts that charge a $12 monthly fee unless the customer has a direct deposit of $250 or more or a minimum daily balance of $1,500. Some eBanking customers were switched over as early as 2015.


 

MARS

U.S. tests nuclear power system to sustain astronauts on Mars:

A key hurdle for any long-term colony on the surface of a planet or moon, as opposed to NASA’s six short lunar surface visits from 1969 to 1972, is possessing a power source strong enough to sustain a base but small and light enough to allow for transport through space.


 

MEMES

Why are people eating laundry detergent?

Tide Pods are…not simply a meme that corporations can’t control, but a meme that itself controls a corporation. Instead of participating in the meme — thereby ruining it — Procter & Gamble is obligated to spend a great deal of money actively trying to shut the meme down. There is something thrilling, funny, and a bit perverse in forcing a company’s “I talk just like you, fellow teens” social-media account to request that you engage with their products less.

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