Archive for the ‘Book review’ Category

Here are some bonafides regarding my fundy pedigree. In my posession are:

Rightly dividing the Word of Truth,” C.I. Scofield, Ten outline studies of the more important divisions of Scripture

A Mighty Wind,” Plain Papers on the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, C.I. Scofield”

Dr. C.I. Scofields Question Box” 1917, Moody Bible Institute

Question #1″Is not the number of Israelites mentioned in Numbers 1:39 contradicted by the numer given elsewhere?

A: The number given in Numbers 1:39 is a mistranslation for which we cannot account, as both the Septuagint and Hebrew have 22,300. It is well to remember that seeming contradictions are often due to mistranslations.

Wonder how many KJV only folks would burn their Scofields knowing that bit of information?

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Graham’s Magazine, March, 1846

Some Frenchman–possibly Montaigne–says: “People talk about thinking, but for my part I never think except when I sit down to write.” It is this never thinking, unless when we sit down to write, which is the cause of so much indifferent composition. But perhaps there is something more involved in the Frenchman’s observation than meets the eye. It is certain that the mere act of inditing tends, in a great degree, to the logicalisation of thought. Whenever, on account of its vagueness, I am dissatisfied with a conception of the brain, I resort forthwith to the pen, for the purpose of obtaining, through its aid, the necessary form, consequence, and precision.

How very commonly we hear it remarked that such and such thoughts are beyond the compass of words! I do not believe that any thought, properly so called, is out of the reach of language. I fancy, rather, that where difficulty in expression is experienced, there is, in the intellect which experiences it, a want either of deliberateness or of method. For my own part, I have never had a thought which I could not set down in words, with even more distinctness than that with which I conceived it:–as I have before observed, the thought is logicalised by the effort at (written) expression.

There is, however, a class of fancies, of exquisite delicacy, which are not thoughts, and to which, as yet, I have found it absolutely impossible to adapt language. I use the word fancies at random, and merely because I must use some word; but the idea commonly attached to the term is not even remotely applicable to the shadows of shadows in question. They seem to me rather psychal than intellectual. They arise in the soul (alas, how rarely!) only at its epochs of most intense tranquillity–when the bodily and mental health are in perfection–and at those mere points of time where the confines of the waking world blend with those of the world of dreams. I am aware of these “fancies” only when I am upon the very brink of sleep, with the consciousness that I am so. I have satisfied myself that this condition exists but for an inappreciable point of time–yet it is crowded with these “shadows of shadows”; and for absolute thought there is demanded time’s endurance.

These “fancies” have in them a pleasurable ecstasy, as far beyond the most pleasurable of the world of wakefulness, or of dreams, as the Heaven of the Northman theology is beyond its Hell. I regard the visions, even as they arise, with an awe which, in some measure moderates or tranquillises the ecstasy–I so regard them, through a conviction (which seems a portion of the ecstasy itself) that this ecstasy, in itself, is of a character supernal to the Human Nature–is a glimpse of the spirit’s outer world; and I arrive at this conclusion–if this term is at all applicable to instantaneous intuition–by a perception that the delight experienced has, as its element, but the absoluteness of novelty. I say the absoluteness- for in the fancies–let me now term them psychal impressions–there is really nothing even approximate in character to impressions ordinarily received. It is as if the five senses were supplanted by five myriad others alien to mortality.

Now, so entire is my faith in the power of words, that at times I have believed it possible to embody even the evanescence of fancies such as I have attempted to describe. In experiments with this end in view, I have proceeded so far as, first, to control (when the bodily and mental health are good), the existence of the condition:- that is to say, I can now (unless when ill), be sure that the condition will supervene, if I so wish it, at the point of time already described: of its supervention until lately I could never be certain even under the most favorable circumstances. I mean to say, merely, that now I can be sure, when all circumstances are favorable, of the supervention of the condition, and feel even the capacity of inducing or compelling it:–the favorable circumstances, however, are not the less rare–else had I compelled already the Heaven into the Earth.

I have proceeded so far, secondly, as to prevent the lapse from the Point of which I speak–the point of blending between wakefulness and sleep–as to prevent at will, I say, the lapse from this border–ground into the dominion of sleep. Not that I can continue the condition–not that I can render the point more than a point–but that I can startle myself from the point into wakefulness; and thus transfer the point itself into the realm of Memory–convey its impressions, or more properly their recollections, to a situation where (although still for a very brief period) I can survey them with the eye of analysis.

For these reasons–that is to say, because I have been enabled to accomplish thus much–I do not altogether despair of embodying in words at least enough of the fancies in question to convey to certain classes of intellect, a shadowy conception of their character.

In saying this I am not to be understood as supposing that the fancies or psychal impressions to which I allude are confined to my individual self–are not, in a word, common to all mankind–for on this point it is quite impossible that I should form an opinion–but nothing can be more certain than that even a partial record of the impressions would startle the universal intellect of mankind, by the supremeness of the novelty of the material employed, and of its consequent suggestions. In a word–should I ever write a paper on this topic, the world will be compelled to acknowledge that, at last, I have done an original thing.

From MARGINALIA, Edgar Allen Poe, 1844-49


In this passage we see Poe’s passion for words.  Words and their ability to capture the essence of the human condition as well as the human capacity to think and experence in the physical, emotional and psychal realms.  Yet as powerful as words are they are only representatives of the thing itself.  Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase that the “Medium is the Message,” showing the ability of the medium to influence the message.  In the case of the written word, it is but a visual representation of the idea of the thing itself.  That is the limitation we see Poe referring to in the final paragraph, “but nothing can be more certain than that even a partial record of the impressions would startle the universal intellect of mankind, by the supremeness of the novelty of the material employed, and of its consequent suggestions. In a word–should I ever write a paper on this topic, the world will be compelled to acknowledge that, at last, I have done an original thing.”   That is the great limitation of words, they only have the ability to convey the shadow of the “fancies” or the impressions… and not convey the “fancies” or the experience of the impression itself.  Such a medium would do all Mr. Poe states it would, startling the universal intellect of mankind…. it would be truly a remarkable “original” thing.

So here sit I, attempting to use words as the means to convey who or what I am, think and experience, to an empty page.  In the attempt it dawns on me how our culture is influenced by our history and our shared experiences as well as the individual experiences others have shared with us.  Poe influences those who read him, such as Alan Parsons who conceptualized some of Poe’s works in music, thereby creating a new experience for our culture.  The experience is described with words but again we are limited to to a description and not the experience itself.   It is very frustrating to be given the richness of words (an advantage we have over mere animals) and yet be limited by that advantage to mere ablility to provide a commentary of the “fancies” and the experiences… and not the thing itself. 

So… Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

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My latest read was a real departure for me. This one was another one of those chance encounters one finds when they frequent the local thrift store. I was perusing titles when my eye stopped on this one. It was one of those automatic things that happen when you are scanning rapidly and the brain screams, “Stop! Back-up.” Not exactly because it is such a treasure but I had heard of this book for years and it was the author’s name what really jumped out at me. The Book is “Hollywood Babylon” by Kenneth Anger, 1974.
For those who don’t realize who and what I am talking about let me do a little synopsis. Kenneth Anger is an avant-garde producer of occult films. Possibly known best for “Lucifer Rising” a visually symbolic piece of cinematography that pays homage to paganism and Alistair Crowley. (The Mr. Crowley Ozzy Osbourne sang about.) Kenneth Anger was teaming with Jimmy Paige for the soundtrack for this one but it seems they had a row about what-was-what and Anger pitched the Paige work and, instead, had Bobby Beausoleil (of Manson Family fame) compose the score for the soundtrack (from prison as I have read somewhere recently but have’nt verified yet). On a personal note I find it interesting how connected the Manson family was in the music world. Charlie’s music has received much airplay by groups such as Gun-n-Roses and Marilyn Manson, and there are may blogs that still ‘worship‘ Charlie and play his albums [that were produced while Manson was associated with Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys]

Anyway, Kenneth Anger, a former child star in Hollywood compiled a tell-all, who’s-who with his gab fest “Hollywood Babylon.” If you ever wanted to look at the seamier side of Tinsel Town, and see it from the beginning this is the book. If you think that Sin City on the West Coast is bad today then take another look. Look where it came from and what philosophies it was built upon. Mr. Anger gives a grimy portrayal of what went on behind the glitz and the glam.

To be sure, there are those who bring up issues with the book, namely some attributations regarding photos and some date specific events as well as whether it was from the Letter “H” or the 13th letter “D” from which a starlet plunged to her final demise using the Landmark sign “HOLLYWOODLAND” as her jumping off point. Detail can be hashed out and nuanced but the gist of the tale is a major commentary on American Culture especially since this industry has become the predominant influence on current American Culture. Marshall McLuhan told us in the 60’s that the Medium is the Message. Btw. I was listening to Ravi Zacharias’ “Mind Games in a World of images,” today and he quoted (I believe it was Dostoevsky) on the evolution of art, “First Art imitates life…Then Life imitates Art… Finally, art becomes the purpose for life.” In these pages from Anger we see the human cost of fame and fortune in Hollywood. Page after page of nihilism bearing fruit as the elites come to the end of themselves and have no reason for continuing.

I seem to have begun a study on media and culture by accident here recently. I began with a study of Neil Postman’s, Amusing ourselves to death, along with McLuhan’s the Medium is the Massage (a compilation of effects), and his Understanding Media. I realize that I am a product of the media of my culture and now I am trying to understand how deeply such exposure has affected me. In reading Anger’s book I found myself wanting to take a shower knowing that this art form we call movies, the big screen has for years been putting out a message that reflects the worldviews of those we read about in Hollywood Babylon. In spite of, or maybe because of, the voyeuristic nature of the book I felt I needed a bath after finishing it. Some of the stories are hardcore in their explicitness and others are a read-between-the-line codification of what Anger is trying to convey.

This book is not for the immature or the youngsters but is interesting prattle from a first source.





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