The Atheists' Bible

Thursday, November 02, 2006

"Gott mit uns"



Photo: In light of Kevin Rudd's essay on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and 'Faith in Politics', a photo of the Wehrmacht issued belt buckle with slogan "Gott mit uns" or "God with us"

'Faith in Politics'

The following letter was submitted to the editor of 'The Monthly' for publication approximately 5 minutes ago:


Dear Ed,

With regard to Kevin Rudd's essay ‘Faith In Politics’ (October 2006) I find it astonishing - even nauseating - that he would choose as the best example for his case, the worst example. Dietrich Bonhoeffer gave his life not railing for a role for 'Faith in Politics' but to undo it.

Mussolini's 1933 Lateran treaties bestowed on the Vatican the sovereignty and diplomatic privilege that later permitted it to harbour war criminals and provide "rat lines" to as many as 30,000 Nazis fleeing Europe. In July 22 of the same year Pius XI signed an agreement with Adolf Hitler to disband the Catholic Center Party, withdraw from labour unions and give its support to Hitler's party in turn for which Adolf offered Pius XI the "Kirchensteuer", a church tax levied from German payrolls that still exists today. Hitler was subsequently elected into power by a popular democratic vote. In 1941 when he invaded Yugoslavia, Hitler handed power to Ante Pavelic and the Fascist-Catholic regime Ustaši (Ustashi) which perpetrated the second worst holocaust in human history, executing as many as a million non-Catholic civilians in forced conversions, fining and confiscating property from non-Catholics, and ultimately building concentration camps for those who would not convert to their faith, subsequently committing theocide with an efficiency and savagery that is only exceeded by the Jewish holocaust.

Does Rudd hope that Bonhoeffer - as the isolated exception in that church at that time - somehow mitigates the horrors perpetrated by men of 'Faith in Politics' in 1935 to 1949? If so, how does he justify not at least acknowledging in his essay the horrific role Catholicism played in government in Italy, Germany and Yugoslavia in the years leading up to and immediately after World War II, or the millions murdered for the politics of Christian Mussolini, Pavelic and Von Papen?

Finally, in Hitler's Proclamation to the Catholic German Nation at Berlin, February 1, 1933, two days after being sworn in as Chancellor, he announced that his government regarded "Christianity as the foundation of our national morality".

By attempting to recruit Bonhoeffer to his case Rudd demonstrates stunning insensitivity and myopia.

Bonhoeffer did not die railing for a role for 'Faith in Politics'.

He was murdered by those who did.



Marcus Gibson

Friday, October 06, 2006

Church in Australian Government

With Ruddy's outing this week in SMH as an advocate of church in government, and the subsequent essay in The Monthly, it seems Kev is becoming increasingly comfortable declaring his position on religion in politics. In May 2005, channel surfing at 10 o'clock at night, I happened to catch Rudd's interview with Doogue on faith show 'Compass' in which he claimed it was dangerous for him to discuss his Christianity within the party:

"Doing this interview with you Geraldine has got more hazards for me internally than anything that you may calculate may be advantageous for me beyond the party. I just think I’ve got a responsibility to start talking about these things."

And yet not too hazardous for Harry Quick MP to join the Anderson-Costello-Vale-Abetz-Cadman-Bishop weekly Bible study in Parliament House reported in SMH six months earlier.

So has Rudd become more courageous?
Or have these hazards passed?

A reflection on recent declarations from both major parties:

"I think our job is to say, this is the fully rounded Christian Gospel and we as Christians within a political party are seeking to give effect to that" - Kevin Rudd, 2005 Interview with Geraldine Doogue on Compass

"I want to speak to you as Labor Party leader. But I also want to speak as a Christian..." - Kim Beazley, 2005 Address to the Australian Christian Lobby

"It remains the fact that the Christian religion is the greatest force for good and progress, and the dignity of the individual in this nation." - John Howard, 2004 End of Year Address in Parliament

"We need a return to faith and the values which have made our country strong." - Peter Costello, 2004 Address to Hillsong Church

"I am very conscious of my unworthiness as a Christian and as a human being, and it is always with some reluctance that I take to the pulpit." - Tony Abbott, 2005 Address to Wesley Mission

It looks very much as if Rudd's suggestion is moot now anyway.

M

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Chinese Govt Blocks WWW.THEATHEISTSBIBLE.COM

According to a friend in Shanghai my website WWW.THEATHEISTSBIBLE.COM can't be viewed in China due to government filtering of web content.
Whether the Peoples Republic of China Ministry of Culture don't like the word 'atheist' or 'bible' is unclear.

The 'Great Firewall of China' also filters news from foreign sources, websites including forums, news and information about Tibetan independence, Falun Gong, Dalai Lama, Taiwan and Taiwan independence, Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, freedom of speech, democracy, Yahoo, Wikipedia, free Internet services, Geocities, Blogspot, search engines, and certain search terms. See wikipedia 'List of words censored by search engines in Mainland China'

Monday, April 24, 2006

WWW.THEATHEISTSBIBLE.COM

The website is finally up.
The reasons for the delay? Superfluous animation!

Take a look:

- SOAPBOX for rants, thoughts, links, and lists,
- SANDBOX for prose, art and experimental dev
- news, links, etc.


WWW.THEATHEISTSBIBLE.COM Screenshot - Click to Open

M

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Spontaneous Photo


Spontaneous photo of small bookcase behind me - Click to Expand

M

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Background

"The eBOOK revolution is so over."
http://www.futureofthebook.com/


10 years there ago there was a great deal of discussion about the future of the novel. With the advent of the PC and Internet, publishers and writers were both concerned for the future of books and curious about their new potential. Everything else was changing; email replaced letters, computer games replaced board games, what would replace the trusty paperback? Hypertext? Interactive novels? Some unfathomable new electronic media conceived by a pimply MIT undergrad?

Starting this blog, and this ill-formed notion of an interactive editorial process, are descendant from an older idea.

Signing the contract for my first novel the ‘electronic media’ rights were a throw away. The publisher wasn’t interested. People weren’t going to sit and read a book on a computer. But the concept of an electronic book seems so strong. Imagine removing all risk and a big chunk of your overheads by doing away with typesetting, printing, binding, warehousing, shipping, and pulping unsold copies? Editors would no longer have to guess what would sell. The writer could complete a book and have it on the market the same day. A book you could read in the bath. A book that saved the trees. Every way you looked at it, it revolutionized the business. And best of all, you could run around now and buy everyone’s electronic media rights for cheap. It seemed inevitable. Like Gutenberg’s printing press.

So, in '95 I formed a small venture, poorly capitalized by a few neighbours, and set out to trademark the name ‘eBook’ (only to be advised by the attorneys that the term was not trademarkable. I now know the trademark was abandoned some years earlier by Faxon Company, Inc. and has since been secured by the eBooks Corporation.) But a patent search turned up no preexisting patents for electronic books. I worked up a business model, went to Hong Kong to meet with a manufacturer, and promptly ran out of money, failed to recapitalize, and it all went pear-shaped. Like so many tech startups around then, the business went the way of the scribe.

Some electronic book publishers now manage to eke out an existence but it's not exactly taking off. Why? After many late nights massaging the idea with publishers, writers, reader, software developers, manufacturers and investors, I still cling to the notion that I have it all figured out. So here it is, the secret to building a billion-dollar media company:

1) Simulation. A reading device must look and weigh the same as a hardcover, and it must open and close the same way. It must have 2 screens. The experience is key. Turning a page every 100 words doesn’t work. It doesn't feel right. And to get off one pokey little screen and have your portability, a classic two page format is the only thing that works.


Electronic Book Design - Click to Expand

2) Simplicity. The device should have simple page forward and back keys under the thumbs and nothing more. It switches off when closed and remembers the page you're on. It doesn't have to synch with your calendar or connect to the Internet. Premium models for the boffins may have extra functionality like touch-screen highlighting of text, image support, docking stations, PDA functionality, etc. But not the basic model. It only inflates the cost of the device. Leave gadgetry to others.

3) Savings. To deliver adequate value when selling a purpose-engineered reading device, include in the bundle a pile of public domain titles. The Bible, Shakespeare, Dickens, Conan Doyle, Twain, Louis Stevenson, Verne, Stoker, Baum, Carroll, the list is enormous. Recipes. Dictionary and thesaurus. The works of Darwin. The whole bag. They're all royalty free. 10,000 books for the price of 10.

4) Security. The second big one everyone gets wrong. Sell titles in a cartridge, a-la Gameboy. A cartridge allows for better piracy protection. It is also something you can hold. Something you can own. It can be even signed by an author. Publishers will shink-wrap top sellers for retailers.

5) Point-of-Sale. How do you sell a book in cartridge form without going back into manufacturing and distribution risk? Simple. The person who gets this right will rule the game. Eradicate upfront costs and risk by locating point-of-sale devices in existing bookstores that write the book to cartridge at the moment the purchase is made. A HarperCollins vending machine. Nobody carries stock on a balance sheet. Leverage publishers relationships with vendors and engage them in your business model. License the leasing and maintenance of the machines to others.

And so I have a Blog.

Why? My novel is finished. It will take six months to secure a publisher, averse as they are to taking on the risk of printing and shipping a title without torturing the writer first into matching something that has already sold. After that, the manufacturing process will take another ten months before the paperback is on the shelves. In the intervening year-and-a-bit, the novel sits around gathering dust. After 13 years in the writing, what's another year? Right?

Some might say the eBook revolution is over. It's more likely it hasn't begun. So far we've only felt rumblings. The upheaval will begin in a well-capitalised corporation with marketplace muscle and iPod-savvy.

The way we read will eventually change, but moreso, the way we write. It already has. (No more Liquid Paper!) But the greatest advent of all will be the removal of the gatekeepers, those who decide what is published and what isn't. With the advent of electronic media anyone will be able to publish in a consumable format in any way they see fit. Serialised. Open development. And the market will determine which writers survive. Those in the industry who thrive will be those who get in on the ground floor. Those who add product value. The good editors. Those who write well. And those who engage their audience.

Like this.

Feel free to comment.

M