I'm a citizen of Lexington, Kentucky, the United States, the world, and the digital sphere. Politically, I care about equality (and changing structures to support it), elections (that is, making them more fair and representative), and electronics (or, rather, their impact on society).
I am a believing agnostic in Community of Christ with a (mostly) cherished past as a (mostly) literalist Mormon.
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A week and a half ago, I wrote a post arguing that the Bible is actually more of a weak point than the Book of Mormon for fundamentalist, literalist attitudes toward Latter-day Saint scripture. That post—like this one—was inspired by an Introduction to Scripture class that I’m currently taking through Community of Christ’s Temple School. The first lesson did a lot of work to play up the Bible as the main scriptural foundation of Community of Christ and is doing some respectful but firm downplaying of the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants.
I first read this book a few years ago, making my way through Ruff’s books after enjoying Lovecraft Country. I might like this one just as much—it’s bizarre to the point of absurdity but in a way that gets you to think. This reread was inspired by picking up a copy of my own from the clearance section of my favorite independent bookstore, and I’m really glad I own it.
I defined myself for a long time as a moderate or centrist, and despite my leftward march in recent years, it still feels weird to be aspirationally reading a book on anarchism. As Branson points out early in this book, there are plenty of people who would never identify with the word but agree with anarchist ideas in science fiction, and I guess that’s how I got here. Twice in 2023, I read Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway, and on the second read, I realized that there were some strong anarchist themes in that book.
📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for Curveball: When Your Faith Takes Turns You Never Saw Coming, by Peter Enns- kudos:
I owe Pete Enns a lot. Reading his books in the years before I hit a faith crisis helped that experience go a lot more smoothly, as did continuing to read his stuff and listen to his podcasts during the process of faith transition. Around the time this book was coming out, though, I needed a break. I felt like I knew most of his stuff, his media efforts felt like they were getting bigger and more corporate, and as much as I owed him, I wasn’t feeling it anymore.
📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for A City on Mars: Can We Settle Space, Should We Settle Space, and Have We Really Thought This Through?, by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith- kudos:
This is a fascinating book written by two authors who began the project wanting to write about how cool it would be to settle space… but after consulting all the evidence, concluded that it might not be a great idea. It’s kind of a downer book in a way—I’ve always been excited about space, and it’s a bummer to think of it as an awful place where we might not have a future.
I’d love to complete a seminary degree one day, but I’m also having to convert the ten hours of video lectures for the non-credit church class I’m taking to audio so I can squeeze them in at 2x speed while I do dishes, so I doubt I’ll get to that part of my bucket list anytime soon.
Interesting Book of Mormon reading here. link to “Why does Nephi keep the sword? | By Common Consent, a Mormon Blog”
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Spotify accuses Apple of ‘extortion’ with new App Store tax - The Verge'- kudos:
I don’t like Spotify, but they’re not wrong here. link to “Spotify accuses Apple of ‘extortion’ with new App Store tax - The Verge”
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Mozilla says Apple’s new browser rules are ‘as painful as possible’ for Firefox - The Verge'- kudos:
C’mon Apple. link to “Mozilla says Apple’s new browser rules are ‘as painful as possible’ for Firefox - The Verge”
Last Sunday, I gave a sermon on the Temptation of Jesus for a Beyond the Walls service by the Toronto Congregation of Community of Christ. The whole service was great, and I was happy to make my small contribution to it. It’s been recorded and archived here: As I did the last time that I gave a sermon, though, I wanted to share the text I preached from:
Good thoughts from Newton here. “Who could have predicted this?” indeed. link to “The Taylor Swift deepfakes are a warning”
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'N.S.A. Buys Americans’ Internet Data Without Warrants, Letter Says - The New York Times'- kudos:
Well, this sucks. Appreciate Ron Wyden’s diligence in this area. Gift link. link to “N.S.A. Buys Americans’ Internet Data Without Warrants, Letter Says - The New York Times”
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Apple is bringing sideloading and alternate app stores to the iPhone - The Verge'- kudos:
Sideloading for Americans, too, please. link to “Apple is bringing sideloading and alternate app stores to the iPhone - The Verge”
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Elon Musk Spreads Election Misinformation on X Without Fact Checkers - The New York Times'- kudos:
I was already fed up with Twitter before election season started. C’mon, Musk. Gift link. link to “Elon Musk Spreads Election Misinformation on X Without Fact Checkers - The New York Times”
I don’t get what’s missing from a world without generative AI—and examples like this don’t make me any more convinced. link to “X is being flooded with graphic Taylor Swift AI images - The Verge”
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Haine en ligne : Elon Musk promet de payer les recours en justice contre la future loi irlandaise'- kudos:
Musk ne s’intéresse à la liberté d’expression que quand il peut en profiter. link to “Haine en ligne : Elon Musk promet de payer les recours en justice contre la future loi irlandaise”
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'OpenAI went back on a promise to make key documents public | Ars Technica'- kudos:
If OpenAI is going to be an influential company, it would be nice for it to be more transparent. link to “OpenAI went back on a promise to make key documents public | Ars Technica”
I was recently complaining about religious books that I felt were below where I am in my thinking, so this was a slice of humble pie. I don’t do great with dense philosophical or theological works, and my rating is more a reflection of that than anything else. I made it through with an audiobook, but I don’t know how much I’ll retain. Tillich came highly recommended by other authors, but I think that most of what I wanted to get out of it was concentrated in the final chapter of the book.
Almost a year ago now, Stephen C. at the Mormon blog Times and Seasons wrote a post asking what might be an “extinction-level event” for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There’s a lot of interesting speculation in the post, but the passage that I copied down at the time was this one: Of course, the truly fatal circumstance is if the President of the Church stopped believing in the truth claims.
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Palestinian death toll in Gaza soars past 25,000 with no end to war in sight : NPR'- kudos:
1,200 deaths is an enormous tragedy. What does that make 25,000 deaths? link to “Palestinian death toll in Gaza soars past 25,000 with no end to war in sight : NPR”
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Ubisoft Says It Out Loud: We Want People To Get Used To Not Owning What They’ve Bought | Techdirt'- kudos:
So. so gross. link to “Ubisoft Says It Out Loud: We Want People To Get Used To Not Owning What They’ve Bought | Techdirt”
Mormon theology doesn’t really do incarnation. Latter-day Saints believe in an embodied God and that (nearly) all humans will be resurrected to perfect bodies after this life and inevitable death. Latter-day Saints are also not Trinitarian and see Jesus and God the Father as more distinct than most Christian traditions do. Between those two beliefs, Jesus’s taking on a mortal body is not really a big deal—it’s kind of par for the course for any human, whether or not they are the Savior of the world.
My political views have shifted a lot over the past decade, and I think my attitude toward Macron demonstrates that pretty well. When he was first elected, I was pretty excited. I was fed up with the American right but not ready to identify with the left, and the idea of a new centrist party emerging out of nowhere was inspiring. In the years since, though, I’ve moved steadily leftward—not least because Macron has demonstrated the ways that centrism tends to cede ground to the right on important issues.
Grant Hardy is doing great work with the Book of Mormon. I don’t see the text the same way that he does, but I’m deeply grateful for what he’s contributed to new readings of it, and I’m glad I have a copy if this. It surprised me in this interview to learn that the LDS Church forebade a reprinting of the semi-official study edition Hardy had recently worked on. I found that to be a tremendously helpful text, and I’m glad I have a copy since it’s apparently doomed to go out of print.
Even if AI would be beneficial for humanity in the aggregate, it’s important to ask how that benefit would be distributed. link to “AI to hit 40% of jobs and worsen inequality, IMF says”
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'I’m sorry, but I cannot fulfill this request as it goes against OpenAI use policy - The Verge'- kudos:
Yeah, but don’t worry, this is definitely the only way that generative AI will be used to overwhelm us with useless content. link to “I’m sorry, but I cannot fulfill this request as it goes against OpenAI use policy - The Verge”
Good for Platformer. link to “Substack keeps the Nazis, loses Platformer - The Verge”
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Substack Realizes Maybe It Doesn’t Want To Help Literal Nazis Make Money After All (But Only Literal Nazis) | Techdirt'- kudos:
As usual, I find Masnick’s recap of this recent nonsense helpful in terms of summary and interpretation. link to “Substack Realizes Maybe It Doesn’t Want To Help Literal Nazis Make Money After All (But Only Literal Nazis) | Techdirt”
📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee, by Bart Ehrman- kudos:
Kind of like the Spong book I recently finished, I enjoyed this book, but I think I would have gotten about as much from a condensed version. I’ve gotten to a point after nearly a decade of this kind of reading that I don’t need to be eased into a lot of these arguments and just want the crux of them. I think the academic in me (though this is certainly not my area of training) also wants more sources and footnotes.
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Pluralistic: Kelly and Zach Weinersmith’s “A City On Mars” (09 Jan 2024) – Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow'- kudos:
I’ve wanted to read this book for a while, but Doctorow has really sold me on it. link to “Pluralistic: Kelly and Zach Weinersmith’s “A City On Mars” (09 Jan 2024) – Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow”
I have lots of concerns about LLM training, but I think it’s better to think of the issue in terms of digital labor, not copyright. My blog is licensed for reuse, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less exploitative for someone to scrape it all to develop software that will make them rich off my work.
I didn’t learn to swear until I was in my 30s, so I have a lingering suspicion that I wind up sounding like Captain Kirk in Star Trek IV.
🔗 linkblog: mes pensées sur 'La première église urbaine de Suisse romande ouvre ses portes à Lausanne - rts.ch - Vaud'- kudos:
De quoi s’inspirer pour imaginer de nouveaux avenirs chrétiens. lien pour “La première “église urbaine” de Suisse romande ouvre ses portes à Lausanne - rts.ch - Vaud”
Last July, I gave my first sermon for a Community of Christ congregation, preaching on the Parable of the Samaritan. I guess I didn’t do too badly, because their pastor reached out in December to ask me to give another sermon this month. On January 21st, I’ll be preaching on Matthew 4:1-11, covering the Temptation of Jesus. This has been a fun passage to revisit and see with new eyes. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to say just yet, but I’ve got plenty of notes and ideas and am looking forward to nailing things down over the next week and a half.