So What Are you Reading?: Generations

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by captcalhoun, Dec 22, 2011.

  1. Smiley

    Smiley Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    hbquikcomjamesl, which translation are you reading for your trip through the books of the Bible?

    One of the book challenge prompts this year for PopSugar is a book set somewhere you'd like to visit in 2021. I am starting a book called Atlas Obscura, which is filled with nothing but cool places to visit.
     
  2. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    ICYMI, for several years now, I have, as a Lenten discipline, been reading the entire KJV, cover-to-cover, between Fat Tuesday evening, and Easter Vigil (at zero-dark-thirty).

    When that got to be too easy (Lent isn't supposed to be easy!), I added the KJV Apocrypha Supplement. Inserted in context, so far as is practical. Which means (1) only First and Second Esdras, and Second Maccabees, get inserted at the end, before starting the New Testament, and (2) Esther and Daniel become somewhat complex exercises involving Post-It Notes to mark the points where one jumps between the canonical and apocryphal texts.

    On Good Friday, the quota is much smaller than in the preceeding 44 days (namely, Hebrews 12 through Jude), in order to allow time to catch up if I'm behind. And the quota for Holy Saturday consists entirely of Revelation.

    Reading the KJV at a fast enough pace to get through it during Lent, assuming one takes time out to eat and sleep, does not allow much time for in-depth study (which is where a lot of people fall into the trap of eisegesis, especially if participating in a formal program led by an eisegete), but it does, especially after doing it several years in a row, allow one to see where the translators (or even those who first set the texts in writing in their original languages) themselves fell into that trap.

    More importantly, it gives one an unparalleled opportunity to see "the big picture" without getting bogged down in details.

    **********
    The First Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians.
     
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  3. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    I applaud your Lenten devotion. To basically read the entire Bible, basically in 46 to 48 days is commendable. And the King James Version no less. That's not an easy version to read for long stretches at a time.

    I try to read a chapter a day year round. I'm currently reading the Psalms (in that case I read 2 chapters a day since many chapters are shorter, and there are 150 of them--I don't want to spend nearly half a year on one Book). It takes me about 3 years to read the entire Bible. Though one year I had one of those One/Day Bibles that is set up to read the Bible in one year and I did complete that.

    I've probably read the Bible through about 3 times so far. Currently I'm reading the New American Bible-Revised (the current version used by the Roman Catholic Church for those unfamiliar with it---though I should add at Mass the first edition of the NAB is used for the readings still). I bought it around the time the revisions to the Roman Missal came out about 10 years ago. I did read the previous version of the NAB once before, and my One Year Bible (which was called the Catholic Living Bible). The NAB-Revised version attempts to stay more faithful to the source material.

    I have read parts of the KJV in the past but I find I have a hard time maintaining my focus because of how it's written. It's probably the 'purest' version, or the most faithful to the source material. Probably why Fundamentalist Christians tend to favor that version over others usually. It's probably the closest you'll get to the original writings without, well, reading the original writings in the original language.
     
  4. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    Actually, there are a lot of resources that are available today, that weren't available to translators working in the Jacobean era, so it is not necessarily all that accurate. But it has the advantage that the translation was commissioned by a denomination (The Church of England) that had no need to pitch itself to the public, nor to encourage its members to make large plate offerings, and so just about the only motivation the translators had to be eisegetic had to do with supporting its James I's claim of Divine Right.

    I will note that Jacobean English, like Elizabethan English, is Modern English (you want to know what Middle English looks like, read The Canterbury Tales -- I have -- and if you want to know what Old English looks like, read Beowulf), albeit archaic Modern English. And the Translators walked a fine line, endeavouring to be completely understandable to all English-speakers of the time, while at the same time sounding intentionally archaic.

    To modern readers, the KJV's chief advantage (aside from the sheer beauty of most of the language, and the occasional crude bit of amusement that can be had from such inelegant turns of phrase as "pisseth against the wall") is that it forces the reader to think, to actively engage his or her brain cells, rather than being spoon-fed. And that, in itself, encourages all of us to be exegetic, and puts us on guard against eisegesis.

    BTW, current thinking is that "pisseth against the wall" doesn't just mean that those to whom it is applied are male, but also that they are either lowlifes, or juvenile, or both.

    Sadly, there apparently are people out there who believe that all of the Patriarchs, Judges, Kings, Prophets, and Apostles (not to mention God and Jesus) actually spoke Jacobean English.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Wow, no, hardly. My understanding is that King James is one of the most inaccurate and distorted versions out there, based on a shoddy and rushed translation (full of errors because the translators thought it was in a different Greek dialect than it really was) and heavily censored to appease the Puritans (for instance, a reference to oral sex in the Song of Solomon being changed to drinking wine from a woman's navel) or rewritten to suit King James's politics (references condemning poisoners were mistranslated as "witches" to feed into the era's frenzy for witch persecution).

    Here's an article my quickie web search turned up just now: https://bible.org/article/why-i-do-not-think-king-james-bible-best-translation-available-today

    And a more superficial listicle, but one that contains links to more substantial articles: https://www.ranker.com/list/ways-the-king-james-bible-is-wrong/genevieve-carlton
     
  6. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    Wow, ok, obviously I was under a mistaken impression. I know I attended a Bible study run by a fundamentalist pastor (even though I was already Catholic at that point, I thought it might be helpful to attend a Bible study in a non-Catholic setting). He swore by the KJV and I've known other fundamentalists, some of whom were in my extended family, who similarly swore by the KJV. Now, that was about 30 years ago. But I'll admit I haven't studied the matter myself, leading to my mistaken assumption. I have a very old KJ Bible that used to belong to my Grandmother that she got way back in the 1920s. I've read parts of that over the years. But as I noted, I found it hard to read. Soon after I was baptized and confirmed as a Catholic (I was baptized while in college) I decided I wanted to read the Bible and chose the NAB for 2 main reasons. One, of course, is that it's the version the Catholic Church uses (and includes the Deutrocanonical Books--Apocryphal to our Protestant friends out there), and the second was I was able to follow it. A primary reason to read it was for my own spiritual enrichment so reading a version I could understand was important for me.

    And then when the NAB-R came out I wanted to read the updated version of that, esp. since they made an attempt in that case to revise it to be more faithful to the source material. Obviously, as in any translation, it's not perfect. And I read the little notes as I go along and sometimes there are notes to that effect. That a certain word or phrase is an imperfect translation because there may not be an exact English word for an ancient Hebrew or Greek word.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, of course. That's basically the definition of fundamentalism -- the claim that one's beliefs represent the purest, most absolute and infallible form of a belief system or cultural practice. But if you actually look at them with a critical eye, you generally find that "fundamentalist" doctrines are modern interpretations crafted to suit modern agendas and needs, and often diverge greatly from the ancient practices they claim to replicate precisely. Our understanding of the past is always filtered through the context of the present, so there's no such thing as a modern doctrine that absolutely, faithfully duplicates the belief or practice of a much earlier time.


    That sounds cool.
     
  8. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    That is one reason I couldn't subscribe to a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. First of all, that's missing the point. It's not really meant to be taken as a historical document. Much like Star Trek continuity ;) there are inconsistencies from that standpoint. Things that just don't gel together no matter how hard you try to make it fit.

    It's more a book of lessons and teachings for Christians to live by. Each time I read it I discover new things. Believing it's the inspired Word of God does not mean every word is factually, historically true. That's not the point.

    And I find it a bit ironic. I've read a couple of books about the Catholic faith and how much of what we do is Biblically based, even though some Protestants argue otherwise. There was one in particular that went through how the Catholic Mass is very much Biblically based. Even the Sign of the Cross has it's basis in some customs noted in the Old Testament. And in some ways we take things more literally than Fundamentalists. Such as the Eucharist--we literally believe what Jesus did at the Last Supper, that he actually meant us to continue that celebration. Many of our prayers during Mass are from the Bible as well, such as the "Holy, Holy, Holy...." which is from the Book of Revelations.

    But the Catholic Church also teaches that the Bible is not a literal work of history. It's our basis in faith and lessons on how God wants us to live our lives. I mean, I accept evolution (much to the consternation of some of my Fundamentalist cousins). In fact, to be honest, when I read the creation account in Genesis, to me, that almost reads like a highly simplified version of evolution. And Adam and Eve could simply represent the first humans who gained consciousness in themselves, or first had a soul. After all, somebody had to be first I would think to cross that threshold.

    Interestingly enough I once had a debate with a cousin of mine about works vs. faith and the Bible. He thought Catholics focused too much on works, that we thought works would get us entry into heaven when in his denomination it was all about faith. We could never do enough to curry favor with God basically. But that's a misunderstanding of the Bible. Yes, works without faith will never be enough. And there are a lot of Catholics out there that are very good at being Catholic, but not good Christians. We all know those people--they are very good at doing churchy things, always go to Mass, always there at Church functions, etc....yet they may be some of the meanest and most judgmental people we know. But I argued if you are true to the faith, you do good works....not because you want brownie points with God. But because it's what Jesus would do. I was at a loss as to how he didn't grasp that concept, though he grudgingly agreed that was true. It's even noted in the Bible several times. I mean, at one point it says if you see someone cold you don't just say something like 'God be with you' and walk away. You help that person out with a coat and warm shelter. The mistake some people make is that they await some supernatural divine intervention. Frankly, most of the time the intervention is us, fellow human beings. Most miracles are small miracles, simple acts.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's also a compilation of historical texts spanning a couple of millennia and various mutually conflicting cultural traditions. I see it as more an anthology than a single unified work. There are parts of it that directly contradict other parts, which is part of why it's a mistake to insist that every word is literally true. It's a compilation of millennia of evolving traditions and beliefs, reflecting a whole dynamic cultural history rather than a single inflexible "truth."


    Honestly, I've never understood the notion that one's entire way of living should be based on only one book.


    The first and second chapters of Genesis read to me like two distinct versions of the creation myth, differing on the order of events and other nuances. That's another reason that the Bible strikes me as an anthology of separate texts. So they're obviously just meant to be metaphors. Back then, people didn't write to convey objective truth. They didn't have the modern concept of journalism or science or textbooks. Writing was meant to be allegorical, the "facts" made up to convey philosophical or moral ideas. So the creation myth wasn't literally about how humans or the world came to be, it was a symbolic assertion of humanity's place in the hierarchy of nature and our relation to God.

    This is why creationism is so dumb. It's not just bad science, it's bad religion, because it mistakes religious writing for a science textbook and misses the true meaning beneath the layers of metaphor and symbolism.


    Well-said. True morality isn't about whether you'll be rewarded or punished; that's an entirely selfish set of priorities. Morality is basing your decisions on the consequences to others, not to yourself.
     
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  10. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    Well, not only. I would say it's a starting point, a foundation. Granted, for the Christian a strong basis. I've certainly read other books. Some, as I noted, about my particular faith. And I've read philosophy books in the past that have included good lessons. And sometimes even things in the entertainment world have some value. Star Trek, for instance, sometimes has things of value it can teach us, even if not always on purpose. Sometimes it's an indirect influence, just about how we treat one another and interact with each other, which can be consistent with some religious teachings, even if it's not overtly religious. Human beings in Star Trek's future treat each other with respect, regardless of their background--which is basically the Golden Rule, treat others how you would want to be treated. So in a way, it's seeing that teaching in actual practice, even if it's not overtly preached.

    I can't help but think if all the people of this Earth...no matter their religious background and even atheists, asked themselves "what would Jesus do" this would be a better place. You don't have to be a believer to find value in His teachings. You don't have to be a Christian to 'love your neighbor.'

    That's certainly true. It's helpful to read it in the context of the times it was written and by whom. Ironically, I actually find it easier to accept it as the Word of God if I don't try to twist myself in knots trying to explain how it's a factual reading of history. It frees me to see what it is trying to tell us.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Sure, that's an approach to it I can appreciate. But there are fundamentalists and the like who insist that it's the only book anyone should be allowed to read, ever, and that any idea not contained within its pages must be ignored and vilified. Which is basically just people making excuses for their own crippling lack of curiosity. Many of them have probably never even read the Bible in its entirety -- just the parts that support their biases.
     
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  12. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    I am about to say something that is extremely counterintuitive:
    Fundamentalism is inherently eisegetic.

    How can fundamentalism possibly be eisegetic, when it embraces literalism? Because it is selectively literal. There's a passage in (if I remember right) John Ford's The Final Reflection (or it might have been some other novel from around that time, that covered that era) that points this out.

    Sure, there are groups that practice consistent literalism with whatever scriptural texts they follow. But they are small, insular, and mostly harmless. They're not using broadcast media or weapons of mass destruction, because they are, by their own choice, living at a pre-steam technological level (making the Shakers and the Amish seem, by comparison, technophiles.)

    True exegesis, whether of a scriptural text or of a legal text (my favorite secular text for this is the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, because extremists from both the gun control and gun rights camps regularly practice eisegesis upon it) demands that one learn the context. Not just the literary context, but the historical context.

    At any rate, I'm now in St. Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews. A few pages shy of yesterday's quota, but my schedule is designed so that the Good Friday quota is quite a bit less than any of the previous days, and the Holy Saturday quota consists entirely of Revelation.
     
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  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Exactly. They make up whatever interpretation suits their biases and claim it's the original, pure doctrine and that every other interpretation before it was a corruption of the mythical purity they claim to possess. They use the claim of originality as their appeal to authority.

    Although the equation of originality with perfection is weird to me. I come from the tradition of science and scholarship, which presumes that our understanding becomes more perfected over time the more we learn. Plus I'm a writer, so I know that the earliest draft of a thing is usually the worst version of it.
     
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  14. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Star Trek TNG Genesis wave book 2 by John Vornholt
     
  15. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    Not just in writing. Engineering, too. In the beginning, did Goddard create a Saturn V? Did Presper Eckert and John Mauchly create a Google or AWS server farm? Creation and Evolution do not contradict each other; rather, attempts to treat religious dogma as if it were empirically verified science contradict both.* What is simultaneously both more amazing and more believable (and also more likely to inspire faith in the existence of a benevolent supreme being)? A notion of a supreme being who must micromanage everything, or of a supreme being who wrote the laws of physics in such a way that, despite the universe being fueled by consumption of its own internal order, sentient life is not merely possible, but inevitable?

    _____
    *Which is to say, "Creation Science" is neither creation nor science (but rather a denial of the most essential elements of both), and there is nothing intelligent about "intelligent design."
     
  16. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    Kind of a shame because they are missing the point--and missing the best parts and reasons for reading the Bible in the first place.

    I really loved the first 2 Genesis Wave books. They definitely had an epic feel to them and they add some resolution to the Genesis device questions left over after TWOK-TSFS-TVH.

    Book 3 and Genesis Force were ok, not quite as good though as the first 2. It seemed to me it was designed to be closed out in the 2nd book, but the next 2 were added later.

    I also sort of look at The Genesis Wave retroactively as the beginning of the TNG-relaunch narrative, along with the A Time Too...novels and perhaps at least loosely Vornholt's Gemworld books (which are referenced in The Genesis Wave--though I'm not sure if Gemworld fits well into the relaunch universe as a whole). Later books will reference events from The Genesis Wave for several years, up to Indistinguishable From Magic. So they are definitely part of the later relaunch universe, and the earliest books that I can see as fully part of that.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think it's wondrous enough that the universe just automatically happens to have laws that promote the emergence of complex life, with no "author" necessary at any point in the process. If all of that wonderful stuff just naturally results from the most elementary workings of particles and forces and math, that's so much more amazing and beautiful to me than a universe that never does anything cool unless some pre-existing intelligence pushes the pieces around from outside.

    Really, given how emergent complexity tends to arise from simple systems, I think that if there were such a thing as a god, it would eventually arise from the workings of the universe evolving into ever more complex levels of emergent structure -- created by the universe rather than creating it. What if God is not the origin of the universe, but its end result?


    I've always assumed Gemworld does fit in. I recall referencing Gemworld as part of Melora's backstory in one of my Titan novels.
     
  18. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    In a sense, in Christian belief, both are correct. God is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega.

    Human beings really cannot grasp God. We tend to view Him as this grandfatherly figure, probably because our minds need something it can understand. But God, in a sense, is like infinity. There is no beginning or end. Try to think of infinity, like the universe with no boundaries. Even after you run out of galaxies space continues infinitely. It's a concept our minds have a lot of difficulty with. That's sort of like God.

    For me, my belief in God started with something pretty simple, and actually scientific IMO. Science tells us matter and energy must come from something. The universe, the Big Bang, all of it had to be created by something. In my case, I believe that something was God. It's sort of a Descartes way of viewing God. I think, therefore I am. And something had to create me, eventually leading you to God creating the universe. In my mind, logic says there has to be some higher order of being that created everything, and my faith tells me that is God. Then you start getting into faith beliefs, denominations and that sort of thing.

    And who created God? Well, then we're back to the beginning because God was always there and will always be there. Nothing created God because God was never not there (I know, a double negative). But it's the only answer that makes sense. If something created God to create the universe, then that something would have to be an omnipotent being, or else you end up in a situation, interestingly enough, like infinite regression (sort of like Dr. Hasslein's explanation of time travel in Escape from the Planet of the Apes)--but that in itself brings you back to infinity.

    Yeah, I guess there's no reason Gemworld wouldn't fit in. It's been a while since I read that duology but I can't say there's anything I recall that wouldn't fit. You could probably add Vendetta as an early entry as well, since that would be referenced in later novels as well.
     
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  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Which is why I'm skeptical of those human beings who insist that their particular narrow definition of God is the only correct and allowable one.


    See, I consider that an ad hoc assumption. We're creators, so we default to the assumption that the only way something can exist is if something created it. I think that's projecting our own preconceptions about ourselves onto the universe. Why did it "have to be" created? Should that be assumed as a given? Shouldn't it be questioned along with everything else?

    As I said, I think of the origin of things more in terms of emergence than "creation." If there's a set of simple rules and interactions running, they generate higher-order patterns and complexities that are greater than the sum of their parts. Before you get a blacksmith that can create a tool, you need an evolutionary process that can produce a blacksmith, and before that you need chemical processes that can organize molecules into biology, and before that you need physical processes that can organize particles into molecules, and so on. And that all happens spontaneously through the operation of physical laws that get more and more elementary the further down you go. So it seems incongruous to expect it to suddenly swerve back up to something as complex as a conscious creator at the most basic level.


    If something in cosmology "makes sense," that makes me instantly skeptical of it. Our perception of "sense" is based on our lived experience, but when we get into realms far beyond our experience, like relativity and quantum mechanics and cosmology, the correct answers are usually the ones that completely defy our expectations of sense. It "makes sense" that if you let go of something that you're holding, it will fall down, but that assumption is completely wrong in outer space, because it's based on a definition of sense that doesn't apply in that context.

    To me, there is nothing that makes less sense than the ultimate origin of things. Either something came into being out of nothingness, or something was always there without a beginning. And neither of those is something the human brain is adapted to comprehend, so I can't believe that the real explanation is something that would make any sense at all in human terms. I think our only hope of answering that question lies in physical observation and mathematical analysis. Our own minds cannot conceive of the true answer, so all we can do is keep looking and try to find it outside ourselves.
     
  20. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    Quite.

    The idea of a God for whom free will is an unfortunate but inevitable side effect of creating anything, who wants Humanity to behave as mindless slaves, made sense to ancients, who had never experienced anything capable of moving under its own power that didn't have free will.

    We have plenty of experience with things that can move under their own power, but lack free will. And we know just how easy it is to create something with locomtion and decision-making ability, but lacking free will, as well as how difficult it is to create anything with even as much free will as a common slime mold: 50 years ago, if you walked into a toy store, and asked for a robot, they'd sell you a wind-up or battery-driven figure of a "tin-can mechanical man." Now, if you walk into a toy store and ask for a robot, they'll sell you a kit to build an actual robot, with a hobbyist-level microcontroller for a brain, that can be programmed (possibly via a smartphone app) to do fairly sophisticated things. But it lacks free will, and even the most sophisticated AI labs in the world are still wrestling with that problem.

    Likewise, the idea of a God who is small enough to be contained within a human construct, even one so colossal as to make Solomon's Temple look like a phone booth (e.g., the VAB at KSC LC39) made sense to the ancients. We have a slightly better idea of just how big the universe is.