Monday, September 21, 2009

I Sense a Disturbance in the Force

The co-founder of the International Church of Jediism, Master Morda Hehol (Daniel Jones), was kicked out of a North Wales supermarket after refusing to remove his hood. The super-market, Tesco, has been accused of religious discrimination after the company ordered Master Morda Hehol to remove his hood or leave.
"I told them it was a requirement of my religion but they just sniggered and ordered me to leave. I walked past a Muslim lady in a veil. Surely the same rules should apply to everyone. It was discrimination. I was really upset. Nobody should be treated like that. I'll advise worshippers to boycott Tesco if it happens again. They will feel the Force."
The jedi holocron, handbook, clearly states that "Jedis must wear a hood up in any public place of a large audience."
A Tesco spokeswoman said:
"Jedi are very welcome to shop in our stores although we would ask them to remove their hoods. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Luke Skywalker all went hoodless without going to the Dark Side. If Jedi walk around our stores with their hoods on, they'll miss lots of special offers."

I don't know where I stand on this. I wonder what the stores policy is on people wearing hooded jackets during the winter or all the teens with hoodies, who keep them up while in the store.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Creation Science Fairs?????

I was up late and bored and had the creation museum on my mind so I went searching out some info on it and I came across a post that discussed a science fair that was going to be held at the museum. I won't go into what all criticism that could be levied at this as I just don't care enough but I did find it interesting that someone linked another creation science fair to the post take the time to read over what experiments they had and which ones won if you like I'll post the two I found most interesting and why below:

2nd Place Middle School Division: "Women Were Designed For Homemaking"

Jonathan Goode (grade 7) applied findings from many fields of science to support his conclusion that God designed women for homemaking: physics shows that women have a lower center of gravity than men, making them more suited to carrying groceries and laundry baskets; biology shows that women were designed to carry un-born babies in their wombs and to feed born babies milk, making them the natural choice for child rearing; social sciences show that the wages for women workers are lower than for normal workers, meaning that they are unable to work as well and thus earn equal pay; and exegetics shows that God created Eve as a companion for Adam, not as a co-worker.

Wow. Sexist is what this is. Granted he could have taken that statement from a bio book as it is fact that women are designed for childrearing, duh they have the organs, but come on how is this science at a middle school level. As for his examples; his physics example is just plain weak and not relevant and his social science is skewed beyond all belief as he is making a statement that was relevant in the 50s but has been blown out of the water since. It is interesting to me that I am very, very bothered at the fact that whoever wrote this description chose to say women workers are payed less than normal workers, opting not to use male where it would have made perfect sense to. I won't touch the exegetical reasoning aside to say that my personal belief in what the Bible says is different than what that student or the judges apparently believe.

1st Place High School Division: "Using Prayer To Microevolve Latent Antibiotic Resistance In Bacteria"

Eileen Hyde and Lynda Morgan (grades 10 & 11) did a project showing how the power of prayer can unlock the latent genes in bacteria, allowing them to microevolve antibiotic resistance. Escherichia coli bacteria cultured in agar filled petri dishes were subjected to the antibiotics tetracycline and chlorotetracycline. The bacteria cultures were divided into two groups, one group (A) received prayer while the other (B) didn't. The prayer was as follows: "Dear Lord, please allow the bacteria in Group A to unlock the antibiotic-resistant genes that You saw fit to give them at the time of Creation. Amen." The process was repeated for five generations, with the prayer being given at the start of each generation. In the end, Group A was significantly more resistant than Group B to both antibiotics.

This is a great example of a good combination of science and religion(as far as their ever could be a good mashup at least). Perfectly good hypothesis, methods, it is reproducible so the validity can be checked and I certainly would like to see a study done with a larger test group than two as variability is nill since it is a 50/50 shot that one group will outperform the other even assuming nothing provides an outside influence. As far as an experiment goes this was well chosen but could be improved upon. I think it would be interesting to increase the scale so we can gather a mean average between the groups and add an addistional group or two to help act as controls such as having one group receiving islamic prayers and another wiccan to see then which group has the highest mean. (For those against using other faiths and willing to reproduce the experiment another option would be to pray that one group doesn't unlock its resistance.)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Dialogue" on Controversial Topics in Museums

This is my interpretation of a presentation I have seen please do not consider this a definitive description of the workshop. If by the end of reading this you are interested in learning more please research the presenter Tammy Bormann an independent consultant for museums who has spent 18 years in the field of interracial and intercultural human relations.

Tonight I attended a workshop hosted by the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) museum studies program. It dealt with a new set of methods to encourage experiential learning in the museum setting. The primary focus of these new methods are on dialogue, dialogue was defined by the facilitator as a learning experience brought about through conversation (that is not verbatim).

Essentially this works as a way to create a comfortable environment in which the participants can freely talk to one another about what they have seen or learned from the exhibit, while allowing them to incorporate outside experiences. The basic rules for facilitating this dialogue experience are:
1. the participants must be fully aware of what they will be involved in, this is key (according to the workshop facilitator) as it will establish an air of compliance and willingness to be part of the experience.
2. the museum official overseeing the dialogue only presents the questions and topics for discussion they do not involve themselves in the conversation unless some form of mediation between participants becomes required.
3. for rule 2 to work properly a set of ground rules must be established before the dialogue can commence commonly these rules consist of please speak freely, do not denigrate other participants or there viewpoints, remain open-minded do not state your opinion and then leave without hearing others, and any others that the museum or participants deem necessary for everyone to feel comfortable.

These three opening rules establish the basics of the dialogue experience. There is a great deal more that goes into the planning and development of the experience among which is the first step, after establishing the rules of the experience, is that the participants find a personal connection to the topic or exhibit. For example members of a tour on Ellis Island who are participating in a dialogue would be encouraged to think of there family genealogy and who in their family may have been immigrants or effected by immigration. After this would come an icebreaker where the participants would be encouraged to partner up and share there connection to someone else. After an allotted time the official would bring everyone back together and then ask volunteers to explain what they had talked about, after a few have done this the official will present a new question this time less personal and more general about immigration. The same pattern will be followed with this question at the end of which a more controversial question will be raised with a repeat of the previous pattern. At this time a longer group discussion will follow as this was the goal question and thought that wanted to be tackled. At the end of this discussion another more personal question will be asked to encourage self reflection. Again the pattern used during the first three questions will be used but after the group discussion everyone will be dismissed.

Now that is by no means a justified description but if I where to write a justified description I would lose most readers attention.

This method may seem simple and some may wonder why it isn't already being used. To put it bluntly this method is much harder to facilitate than one may think and takes time, training, and the proper subject to achieve the right kind of dialogue. This wouldn't be useful for all topics in museums but for tackling subjects often viewed as far more taboo by the current museum administrators than is comfortable to discuss (i.e. religion, racisim, politics) it could be a great method for the museum to act as educator without appearing as authoritative and definitive as to who or what is right.

My own personal interest in this is obviously in the interpretation of religion in museums and I think could be especially useful for an exhibit on mandaeans and there current crisis. Please remember this is not verbatim of what was said in the workshop it is my interpretation and very much shortened explanation of what I learned and how it can be applied.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Recently I have had a growing interest in prosthetics and the possibilities of custom designed prosthetics. The advent of robotics involved in prosthesis makes me think of so much sci-fi reading I have done. Anyway here are a couple interesting pieces about some unique prosthesis.

Immaculate Prosthetic: A design to make a functional but attractive prosthetic. Not the most amazing scientific invention this century but it is nice to see someone is thinking about the self-confidence factor that plays into the human psyche.

Here is a youtube video of Nadya Vessey who lost both her legs below the knee because of a medical condition when she was just a young girl. Nadya has always loved to swim and by chance was asked about her prosthetics by a little boy at the pool. She explained to him that she needed the legs because she was really a mermaid, and the idea stuck. So Nadya asked Weta Workshop, a special effects studio who did the work for Lord of the Rings, if they could make her a prosthetic mermaid tail. They said yes and this is the result.

Thats it for now I'll throw up other interesting links as I find them.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Spring Break

Over Spring break I will be visiting Glencairn Museum in Bryn Athyn, PA. Their website is,, I am doing this research for a paper I am presenting at the Butler Undergraduate Research Conference in April. While this is mostly for my resume, I am interested in the subject of religion in museums and have done a paper on it in the past. The concept behind all of this is that: religion is displayed in museums but not simply as religion it is treated as an aspect of culture. This lack of direct representation of religion in museums is what I am trying to address in my research. I am not the first person to take an interest in this subject, this specialized area of museums is a young and growing field. In the hundreds of years museums have existed only two books have been written on the subject, Godly Things: Museums, Objects and Religion and Stewards of the Sacred, the earliest of the two being published in 2000. Of all the museums in the world I only know of two that are attempting to display the world religions from a multi-religious perspective, St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art in Glasgow, Scotland; and the Museum of World Religions in Taipai, Taiwan. Glencairn specializes in ancient religions and states that its focus is to display the development of the New Church (the New Church is a form of Christianity that I will discuss in a different blogpost), this means that while it displays various religions its central focus is a mono-religious view of the world. Another example of a mono-religious museum is the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY; a little west of Cincinnati. I plan to visit the Creation museum during a weekend before my presentation, but the extent that I will use it in my presentation will most likely be limited due to its narrow subject material. I also plan to visit the MOCRA (Museum of Contemporary Religious Art) in St. Louis, MO; this museum displays art from various faiths, but it is all done in the contemporary style. There is nothing wrong with that, but it does limit what aspects of religion the museum is discussing; again I will use this museum in a limited role in my presentation.

You may still be asking what it is that I am presenting, well if you are maybe this will help clarify it. Here is my the abstract I had to submit for the conference.

The Sacred Museum or the Museum of the Sacred: The Context Behind Religion Museums

Museums and religion have always had a conversation with each other but this conversation has not been done directly. Instead religion has always been hidden behind the veil of culture. Culture and religion are intricately tied to one another but a few brave museums have begun to look at religion as an individual entity that can be presented without the veil. These museums have the difficult task of balancing the age old question of “temple versus forum” that all museums deal with but religion museums deal with in a unique way. The temple versus forum question is summed up as whether museums are spaces that merely showcase objects or are they their to have a conversation with the public that they cater too. Thus when it is suggested that these religion museums are “temples” this could be taken in a literal sense where guests come and venerate artifacts. This is why the context used in the display of religious artifacts must be chosen carefully so as not to offend those who come to venerate them and to not alienate those who come to simply learn. Thus the focus of my project will be on religious museums and the context in which they display their artifacts and why they have chosen to use this context. I plan to review multiple museums including museums that focus on religion and those that do not. I intend to show the unique difficulties of this young but growing field of specialized museums.