May 25, 2005

How the Snee Came to Be

A whimsical, Seussian allegory of the Anthropic Principle
In a place far away
Past the bright Milky Way
Set a world known as Idlewildream

It was balmy and warm
Pleasant evenings, the norm
And where details are more than would seem

On there lived a lone race
In a valley apace
Of a mountainous cragulous peak

They were fuzzy and blue
Quite small, but not too
Of one horn and one tail and one streak

I shall call them the "Snee"
Which they're happy to be
In that being's less dreary than not

They're a cleverous bunch
Never stopping to lunch
While there's interesting thinks to be thought

One day a Snee pup
Turned his restless head up
And he spied a new venturous prize

No one'd been on the mount
In Snee years beyond count
So he set his blue feet to the rise

Two Snee join in his quest
(In his own mind, the best)
Thus began the long scramblous climb

After hours they drew
(Maybe three, maybe two)
O're the crest, one tired Snee at a time

And there they beheld
As their proud Snee hearts swelled
A reward worth their energy spent

A wondrous machine
There'd remarkably been
Set long years without blemish or dent

It was tall as ten Snee
Stacked up shoulder to knee
And twice long as was high I would guess

There were levers and dials
And there must have been miles
Of pipe, tube, and electrical dress

The brave Snee shuffled near
More with reverence than fear
And they drank in the beast with their eyes

They saw settings on knobs
As to do different jobs
And the end had a chute 'bout Snee size

Those three began to think
Snee thoughts worthy of ink
As they pondered the curious device

And they gathered to speak
For it's truth that Snee seek
Or at least seek a truth that delights

Said Snee One of the three
"Now I find this to be
A contraption of curious combine

"'Tis orderly and exact
And complexity packed
And is graceful of angle and line"

Then Snee Two spoke his mind
"Why, this thing is divine
And I wonder at finding it here

"For some task it was made
And some purpose it's played
And perhaps its creator is near"

Then Snee Three spoke at length
"Now, your words do have strength
But I think your conclusion's in error

"See, it's made of mere stuff
One might find in the rough
And those knobs are a random affair

"It's the rain keeps it clean
And no owner is seen
So our inquest may come to no end

"Has no use I discern
And there's no way to learn
Only fancy on which to depend"

And thus went the debate
And continued quite late
Three views making a Snee three-way tie

"We should try it!" posed One
"We might coax it to run
Well, at least we might give it a try"

So they surveyed the thing
With some hope of finding
Some secret that would bring it to life

Till they found a gold key
Fit for hands of a Snee
And a slot to slip in like a knife

"Turn it! Turn it!" cried Two
"It is just as I knew
It was made by a key-making mind"

They did just as he said
And what once had seemed dead
Came awake as it shivered and whined

Banks of light came aglow
Sounds proceeded to grow
And Snee patience was put to a test

One new sound picked up strength
And it traveled the length
Then next moment all came to a rest

Six anxious Snee eyes
Watched with open surprise
As their answer spilled out of the chute

'Twas a full-blooded Snee
Looking same as the three
In his fuzzy blue Snee birthday suit

Said One, "Now it appears
That these gauges and gears
Are all set for producing Sneekind

"But we've no cause to say
It was built in such way
That Snee output is all we might find"

Said Two, "It seems plain
To a right-working brain
That this thing has been crafted for Snee

"Someone's taken great care
To plan horn, tail, and hair
And to bring us forth purposefully"

"Now this does seem," said Three
"Most coincidentally
To be tailored for Snee making use

"But I'm willing to bet
It could all be reset
And its purpose, in fact, is quite loose

"Why, with random set dials
It could surely make piles
Of wombat and woozle and wookee

"'Tis one's own selfish mind
To belove his own kind
And presume it the grandest to be"

Said One, "I suggest
That we secondly test
By adjusting this gizmo anew"

So they twisted and poked
Till their Snee brows were soaked
Turned the key carefully and withdrew

All three Snee were impressed
That they hadn't distressed
The device with their meddlesome work

But it ran as before
Although with somewhat more
Of a rattle and groan and a jerk

Soon they got their result
But they feared there was fault
When they saw what their plan had produced

It looked rather obscene
Like an old tangerine
Tossed aside after having been juiced

"This won't do," said Snee One
"We should try a new run
And perhaps we shall have better luck"

So the knobs were reset
They all placed a small bet
And then out came a wingless brass duck

Said Snee Two in distress
"Look, we're making a mess
This machine must be tuned with great care

"These knobs must be set right
And our know-how is light
And we won't pull that out of thin air"

Said Snee Three with a snort
"It's no time to abort
We've just started our thing-making test

"There's a million unset
Combinations left yet
And it's unlikely just one works best"

So the Snee forged ahead
In spite of Two's dread
In what seemed a good plan to pursue

But they managed to make
Only error and mistake
And enough freaks to fill up a zoo

They made helium rocks
And numberless clocks
Some dry water and tailless snakes

They made spherical blocks
And fifteen-toed socks
Iron balloons and flavorless cakes

Then a one-legged chair
And Swiss cheese underwear
Some hot ice and a gelatin brick

Then a three-cornered square
And a black polar bear
Toothless combs and a one-ended stick

In time Snee Two spoke
"This is like a bad joke
We're just wasting our precious lives here

"We could try through next week
To adjust and to tweak
But we'll get nothing useful I fear"

Said One, "Perhaps it's best
That we give up this test
There's no effect we can guarantee

"Let us end our failed hack
And put this thing back
To the settings we know can make Snee"

So they started to strain
In their fuzzy Snee brain
For the baseline from which they'd begun

They reset all the dials
And ran multiple trials
But of error-free Snee they made none

Said One, "Seems we're close
But as each of us knows
It's a failure how ever we choose

"These knobs seem well set
But the best we can get
Is a fuzzy blue puddulous ooze"

Snee Two's shoulders were bent
And his patience was spent
And he made his thoughts known to his friends

"Count me out of this game
It is ever the same
All our efforts just lead to dead ends

"There may be something more
This machine can work for
But we don't know quite what that could be

"And with all that we try
We can't even say why
This device undertakes to make Snee

"Now it's not just my mood
But I'm led to conclude
Someone's meant us and made us with care

"I'm inspired to seek out
What you may care to doubt
And perhaps He's left more clues elsewhere"

Snee One nodded his head
Took a deep breath and said
"These are sensible words that you speak

"But there's no need for haste
We've just got a mere taste
Think what more could be learned in a week!"

Said Snee Three, looking bored
"I can barely afford
All the time I've invested this day

"Yes, I'm sure we could find
It makes more than Sneekind
If we just would continue to play

"But I have no desire
And t'would only inspire
Dear Snee Two to see ghosts in machines

"And I will not believe
Though it may make him grieve
In fairies, luck charms, and magic beans

"There's no maker of Snee
Or designer I see
Just one gizmo quite luckily set

"And if someone is there
Who loves fuzzy blue hair
Then how odd it is we've never met

"It may be unlikely
That this thing's set for Snee
But it must be set somehow, you know

"And imagine if there
Are machines everywhere
On high mountains wherever they grow

"And I think furthermore
That the odds we'd ignore
If machines were on worlds round each star

"Then with each set unique
By a force yet to seek
Chance would be in our favor by far"

Thus we leave our three friends
To their own separate ends
And their thoughts on the meaning of Snee

Each unique attitude
Colors what they conclude
As stained glasses through which they each see

Snee One has a mind
That is open but blind
He's at home in the land of half-right

Of raw data and fact
He's precise and exact
But the Truth remains just out of sight

Snee Two's highly aware
It's through hearts that we stare
But a reasonable faith is no crime

He's no fear of belief
Indecision's a thief
That steals purpose and pleasure and time

Snee Three lives in denial
Over what cramps his style
Liberty is more precious than truth

He's an accident who
Tends to live like one too
With no purpose or meaning or rhyme
Copyright © 2005 Paul S. Pruett

May 05, 2005

Jane Fonda's Gnostic Feminist Christianity

Awhile back I had heard rumors that Jane Fonda had become a Christian and was even attending Bible Studies at a Baptist church in Atlanta. By all available accounts, it seemed to be the real deal. However, you can imagine my confusion over hearing such reports while at the same time witnessing her anti-Americanism (even giving a nod to Michael Moore), feminist advocacy, and safe-sex campaigning. Well, I think that her recent interview with Beliefnet clears up a lot of the confusion. (Note: Beliefnet, itself, is no bastion of classical Christianity. Observe this vacuous article regarding the new Pope: The Pope's [astrological] Chart: A Willful Ram With a Spiritual Side)

Things seem to start out, for her and this article, promising enough:

Things began to change for me—as I think they do for many people—when I was in crisis. I think that the reason that that happens is because pain can break you open.

I was, utterly fascinated because [some of the Christians I was meeting] were smart people.

It was a somatic feeling that I was being beckoned, and I often felt that there was a light drawing me.

What I realized writing my book was that I had been empty since adolescence. I was learning to be satisfied by spirit, [whereas before] I had been trying to satisfy the hunger with other things.

And we even see a near brush with Biblical Christianity (though I've no guarantee that the Missionary Baptist Church that she was drawn in to was feeding her a protein-rich, balanced diet):

You know, I wasn't attracted to Buddhism although I really respect it. I wasn't attracted to Islam although I really respect it. Or Judaism. I'm attracted to Jesus.

I asked a friend of mine what did [being "saved"] mean, to her? And she said, "Well, to me, it meant going the next step." Well, boy, I mean, I'm a going-the-next-stepper! If there's a next step that can be taken, I'll take it. And so she had me read the Book of John and I was—I was experiencing grace at that time.

And then I began to go to Bible study class, and it didn't take long for me to think, "Uh oh, I've made a terrible mistake, this is not for me." I started going to churches and I fled. I just fled.

But then it all seems to sadly go down hill from there:

It wasn't a man in the sky! It was, it was: Come on! When we talk about—depending on how you talk about it—God, the Almighty, Sophia, a greater power, whatever—can't you understand that this is beyond gender? This is beyond anything that we can imagine. I mean, we can't even describe it. I understand why people latch onto gender things, but this is not a man. But because people have taken it so literally, it becomes gender and hence, hierarchal. And it just made my teeth grate. The more I studied, in the very kind of linear, fundamentalist way, the more I felt reverence leaking away from me.

And I read Elaine Pagels. I had read "The Gnostic Gospels" years before and it had really impressed me. In fact, I read it when I was first feeling God. And then I read "Beyond Belief," which is a book she came out with recently, and it had a lot of references to early Christians and Gnostic Gospels, and so I read the originals. In fact, I got the whole Nag Hammadi library and through that reading, I began to realize that I am on the right path. That Christianity is my spiritual home. This is where I'm meant to be. And that I have to discover for myself what that means.

I started venturing out when I finished the book last fall and discovered that there's a whole community nationwide of feminist Christians. I finished the book and then I heard about this book "Faith and Feminism" by Helen LaKelly Hunt, and now I've gotten to know her and through her, discovered that there's a lot of us out there. And it's like, "O.K., this was waiting. I needed to finish [the book] and this was waiting for me." And it's very exciting.

But perhaps there is yet hope:

And this is very new and so you know, it's hard for me to go into it in great detail because I'm only a few years into this journey. But I am riveted, I am fascinated with religious history, with Biblical history, with the early Gospels, with Robert Graves, King Jesus, I'm just, I can't get enough. This is a very real journey for me.

Could it be that she is on a journey toward authentic Christianity? Could it be that she is there, but is just so loaded with baggage and negative influences, and perhaps has received only a meager portion of the real thing thus far? Is this just another passing fad in her chameleon existence?

In all of my observations, I have failed to see even a hint of the idea that she understands the concepts of sin, repentance, and Jesus' person and work. And as long as she continues to flirt with major heresies, such as Gnosticism, and champion clearly un-Biblical moral causes, then I do not think I am simply being narrow or ungracious in assuming that she is outside of the camp. But who knows what lies ahead for her.

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