Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Well I've hit the big time - Katha Pollitt can't make it to see MISTRESS ILSA because she's out of the country for the summer, but she did say "hope your play is a big hit!" How cool is that? And maybe next time she will be able to attend.

I'm musing over my next Dawkins-related essay. I mentioned a few days ago that he said this:
“There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.”

I focused then on the ridiculous claim that because no Christians have recently been blowing up buildings it somehow mitigates the entire history of Christian violence. As my favorite anthropologist Marvin Harris noted:
...I shall refrain from following out the chain of worldly events that eventually led to the establishment of Christianity as the religion of the Roman Empire. But this much should be said: When the Emperor Constantine took that momentous initiative, Christianity was no longer the cult of the peaceful messiah. Constantine's conversion took place in 311 AD as he led a small army across the Alps. Wearily approaching Rome he saw a vision of the cross standing above the sun, and on the cross he saw the words HOC SIGNO VINCES - "By this sign you will conquer." Jesus appeared to Constantine and directed him to emblazon his military standard with the cross. Under this strange new banner, Constantine's soldiers went on to win a decisive victory. They regained the empire and thereby guaranteed that the cross of the peaceful messiah would preside over the deaths of untold millions of Christian soldiers and their enemies down to the present day.

But what I find at least as interesting is Dawkins, a so-called "new atheist" decided to give so much credit to Christianity. What he really means is that the Enlightenment is a bulwark against religious fanaticism. Without the Enlightenment and all the socio-technological triumphs that allowed Enlightenment views to flourish, Christians would still be conducting crusades against Islam.

It's always a bad idea for an atheist to privilege one religion over another.

Anyway, some more BBG pix for you nature freaks...

Here is another Japanese threadleaf maple

I mentioned previously that the leaves and gnarly trunks make these trees so beautiful - here is a gnarly trunk.

Japanese gardens are always so beautiful because every detail is attended to - even the sidewalk is beautiful yet rustic.

Here is the view from the other side of the Japanese garden pond:

And detail

Another beautiful spot in the BBG is the fragrance garden. Unfortunately I didn't realize that visitors were encouraged to rub the plants in the garden to get the full fragrance effect - so I didn't actually smell that much. I accidentally threw my garden brochure away. I found another one in the Japanese garden, but it was written in Chinese so the only good it was for (to me, anyway) was the maps.

The fragrance garden is where the naked statue is.

Here's a view of the fountain around the statue - ooh, money!

Actual bona fide American do-re-mi.

It must be a wishing fountain.