Monday, December 12, 2005

Space Daily is reporting:

SpaceX is now now hoping to make its first orbital flight on December 19, the first day of a three-day window sandwiched between a missile defense test and the Christmas holidays, following a scrubbed launch attempt on November 26.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Canon law preventing a priest from giving the police information so that they can rescue a boy being held by a child molester was a central plot point in last night’s Boston Legal. The priest in question refused to answer the police enquiries regarding a certain individual, claiming that he could not reveal what was said in confession. Of course, in real life, the church would not be so legalistic, I don’t think, and most priests would not be so nasty. But it worked as a fictional device, and it serves as a good illustration of legalism and how (as Christ’s points out) it gets in the way of doing what is right. Following the rules, he argues, sometimes means that you do the exactly wrong thing.

So is Christianity all about what I can’t do? Christians wonder, and those who are not Christians wonder for them, what is permitted and what is not permitted. Of course, this is like the question in the Hitchhiker’s Guide asked of Deep Thought: what is the meaning of life, the universe and everything? 42. And then Deep Thought points out that they are not asking the right question. Asking if Christianity is about what I can’t do, or asking about what is permitted and not permitted is the focus of most Christians through most of their lives, most of the time. It is the same thing that focuses the minds of the practioners of most faiths and even the minds of those who practice no faiths.

Unfortunately, the answer to that particular question is 42.

You see, it is the wrong question altogether, akin to asking about the nature of the ether, or the color of Unicorn blood. Those would both be the wrong question, given that the ether and Unicorns don’t exist. Perhaps a question more in keeping with, do they exist or not would get better traction.

So what is Christianity all about? Consider that Jesus told his disciples that all would know they were Christians by their love for one another. It wasn’t about their behavior, in avoiding certain “bad” things. Nor did it have anything to do with what they “believed”, another thing that is the focus of many Christians, once they get past the issue of what they can and cannot do; and of course that question tends to result in a lot of answers similar to 42 as well.

Our relationship with God is based on what he did on the cross, so perfection in our behavior and perfection in our beliefs have nothing to do with it. Jesus said that everything hinges on just two commands: to love God and to love people, and really, Paul and John seem to indicate that it mostly comes down to loving people, since that’s how love of God happens.

At the Garden of Eden incident, when Adam made a poor choice with the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it is important to notice that knowing good was as much a problem as knowing evil. When we ask the question, is this good or is this bad, we are already acting as fallen creatures. Ideally, as Bonhoeffer put it, we shouldn’t even think of such things: the right hand should not know what the left hand is doing. Our focus is ideally simply on Christ and acting or not acting; love is all that concerns us. And as Paul points out, love fulfills and sums up the law, because obviously, he says, if you love someone you want what’s best for them, and if you love them, you don’t hurt them. In loving someone, you avoid killing, stealing, and so on from them. Love fulfills all. If we focus on that, the rest takes care of itself and we’ll stop being puzzled by the number 42. We’ll finally have the right question, and then the answer is obvious.
Start saving your frequent flyer miles. Yahoo reports:

HONG KONG (AFP) - Virgin Airlines is to offer frequent-flyer "Space Miles" that passengers can put towards flights in space with the company's soon-to-be-launched Virgin Galactic, boss Richard Branson revealed.

The British tycoon, in Hong Kong to promote new Virgin flights to the city, said customers who collected two million points would be entitled to be among the first commercial astronauts when his space plan takes off in two years.

"There are already 30 people in the world who have collected enough air miles to fly into space," Branson said Tuesday.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Jerusalem Post reports that the International Red Cross may have finally found a way to let Israel join:

The formal reason for the exclusion of MDA [Mogan David Adam, the Israeli version of the Red Cross] was based on the Geneva Convention prerequisite stating that the member organizations must adopt one of the "recognized symbols" of the international movement.

The Red Star of David was not one of these, and since 1949, when the issue was first raised, MDA was unwilling to operate under the Red Cross or Red Crescent, he said. Arab and Muslim countries prevented International Red Cross recognition of the Red Star of David alongside the other two.

In 2000, a compromise was reached in which the International Red Cross agreed to adopt a third, neutral red symbol shaped liked a diamond but called a crystal.

Is it just me or is their something wrong with all of this? What is wrong with the International Red Cross? Islamic symbol is okay, but God forbid they should allow the Jews a Jewish symbol; can't dare offend anyone. Why is it that anti-Semitism remains so widely acceptable to so many?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

UCLA lost today, 66-19, against the team "who must not be named." It was so bad that the guys who came over to watch the game left near the beginning of the third quarter. Why? They decided it would be more fun to go help their wives clean up our church after a bridal shower.
This is cool, from

MOJAVE, Calif. - XCOR's EZ-Rocket flew into the history books Saturday. The craft made a record-setting point-to-point flight, departing here from the Mojave California Spaceport, gliding to a touchdown at a neighboring airport in California City.

And it was piloted by Dick Rutan, Burt's brother, who flew Voyager around the globe nonstop without refueling a few years back.

It's cool to see the continuing advancement of the technology which will make space travel more common and cheaper. It's also cool to see the Mojave Airport referenced again as what it has become since SpaceShipOne: a spaceport. This should be good for the local economy.