150 Renowned Secular Academics & 20 Christian Thinkers Talking About the Existence of God

Of the many books released over the past couple decades about the existence or nonexistence of God (and there were a lot) one of the best comes from philosopher and novelist Rebecca Goldstein. Her 2010 36 Arguments for the Existence of God is not, however, a work of popular theology or anti-theology; it is fiction, a satire of academia, the publishing world, the Judaism she left behind, and the bubble of hype that once inflated around so-called “new atheism."

In a book within the book, Goldstein’s hero, Cass Seltzer strikes it big with his own popular knockdown of religion, The Varieties of Religious Illusion, which ends with 36 refutations of arguments for God in the appendix, which itself provides the appendix for Goldstein’s book. If this sounds complicated, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be. Conversations about God, for hundreds of years the biggest topic in Western philosophy, should not be reduced to syllogisms and stereotypes.

Yet oversimplifying the big questions is what many pop atheist books do, Goldstein suggests. Seltzer’s book arrives when there is “a glut of godlessness” in bookstores. Such books “were selling well,” writes Goldstein, “sometimes edging out cookbooks and memoirs written by household pets to rise to the top of the best-seller list.” The two deep thinkers and religious critics Seltzer self-consciously draws on in his title make his project seem all the more ironically trivial:

First had come the book, which he had entitled The Varieties of Religious Illusion, a nod to both William James's The Varieties of Religious Experience and to Sigmund Freud's The Future of An Illusion. The book had brought Cass an indecent amount of attention. Time Magazine, in a cover story on the so-called new atheists, had ended by dubbing him "the atheist with a soul." 

By embedding arguments for the existence of God in each of the books 36 chapters, Goldstein implies “the joke—or sort of joke,” as Janet Maslin writes at The New York Times, “is that Cass’s conundrum-filled life illustrates and affirms thoughts of the divine even as his appendix repudiates them.” Dwelling persistently on an idea grants it the very validity one argues it should not have, perhaps.

This does seem to be an effect of certain hard-nosed atheist writing, as Nietzsche recognized very well. “I am afraid we are not rid of God,” he once lamented, “because we still have faith in grammar.” Religious ideas are embedded in the structure of the language; language itself seems to have metaphysical properties. It is like ectoplasm, slippery, opaque, made of metaphors both living and dead. It both enables and thwarts all attempts at certainty.

Goldstein’s creative approach to the God debate stands out for its ambivalence and humor. (See her discuss faith, fiction, and reason with her partner, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, in the video at the top of the post.) In the compilations here, Goldstein and 149 more renowned academics offer their agnostic or atheist thoughts on God. Some are less nuanced, some lean more heavily on statistics, physics, and math; many come from the theoretical sciences and from analytic and moral philosophy. Some are sympathetic to religion, some are contemptuous. A wide breadth of intellectual perspectives is represented here.

Yet other than Goldstein and a handful of other prominent women, the selections skew almost entirely male (rather like the characters in most religious scriptures), and skew almost entirely white European and North American. We can do what we like with this information. It should not prejudice us against the finest thinkers in the compilation, which includes several Nobel Prize winning scientists, famous philosophers, Richard Feynman, Oliver Sacks, and Noam Chomsky, as well as a few figures who have recently become infamous for alleged sexual harassment, racism, and far worse.

But we might wish the less engaging contributors to this discussion had given way to a greater diversity of perspectives, not only from other cultures, but from the arts and humanities. On the other side of the coin, we have a smaller list of 20 Christian academics addressing the question of God, below. These include respected scientists like Francis Collins and John Polkinghorne and many well-regarded (and some not so) Christian philosophers. The lineup is entirely male, and also includes an apologist accused of faking his academic credentials and an apologist turned right-wing propagandist who was convicted and jailed for fraud. At the very least, these details might call into question their intellectual honesty.

Here again, maybe some of these selections should have been better vetted in favor of the many women in philosophy, theology, science, etc. But there are voices worth hearing here, from professing intellectuals who can keep the questions open even while in a state of belief, a skill even rarer in the world than in this collection of Christian scientists, scholars, and apologists.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

 

700 Years of Persian Manuscripts Now Digitized and Available Online

Too often those in power lump thousands of years of Middle Eastern religion and culture into monolithic entities to be feared or persecuted. But at least one government institution is doing exactly the opposite. For Nowruz, the Persian New Year, the Library of Congress has released a digital collection of its rare Persian-language manuscripts, an archive spanning 700 years. This free resource opens windows on diverse religious, national, linguistic, and cultural traditions, most, but not all, Islamic, yet all different from each other in complex and striking ways.

“We nowadays are programmed to think Persia equates with Iran, but when you look at this it is a multiregional collection,” says a Library specialist in its African and Middle Eastern Division, Hirad Dinavari. “Many contributed to it. Some were Indian, some were Turkic, Central Asian.” The “deep, cosmopolitan archive,” as Atlas Obscura’s Jonathan Carey writes, consists of a relatively small number of manuscripts—only 155. That may not seem particularly significant given the enormity of some other online collections.

But its quality and variety mark it as especially valuable, representative of much larger bodies of work in the arts, sciences, religion, and philosophy, dating back to the 13th century and spanning regions from India to Central Asia and the Caucuses, “in addition to the native Persian speaking lands of Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan,” the LoC notes.

Prominently represented are works like the epic poem of pre-Islamic Persia, the Shahnamah, “likened to the Iliad or the Odyssey,” writes Carey, as well as “written accounts of the life of Shah Jahan, the 17th-century Mughal emperor who oversaw construction of the Taj Mahal.”

The Library points out the archive includes the “most beloved poems of the Persian poets Saadi, Hafez, Rumi and Jami, along with the works of the poet Nizami Ganjavi.” Some readers might be surprised at the pictorial opulence of so many Islamic texts, with their colorful, stylized battle scenes and groupings of human figures.

Islamic art is typically thought of as iconoclastic, but as in Christian Europe and North America, certain sects have fought others over this interpretation (including over depictions of the Prophet Mohammad). This is not to say that the iconoclasts deserve less attention. Much medieval and early modern Islamic art uses intricate patterns, designs, and calligraphy while scrupulously avoiding likenesses of humans and animals. It is deeply moving in its own way, rigorously detailed and passionately executed, full of mathematical and aesthetic ideas about shape, proportion, color, and line that have inspired artists around the world for centuries.

The page from a lavishly illuminated Qurʼān, above, circa 1708, offers such an example, written in Arabic with an interlinear Persian translation. There are religious texts from other faiths, like the Psalms in Hebrew with Persian translation, there are scientific texts and maps: the Rare Persian-Language Manuscript Collection covers a lot of historical ground, as has Persian language and culture “from the 10th century to the present,” the Library writes. Such a rich tradition deserves careful study and appreciation. Begin an education in Persian manuscript history here.

via Atlas Obscura

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Tibetan Musical Notation Is Beautiful

Religions take the cast and hue of the cultures in which they find root. This was certainly true in Tibet when Buddhism arrived in the 7th century. It transformed and was transformed by the native religion of Bon. Of the many creative practices that arose from this synthesis, Tibetan Buddhist music ranks very highly in importance.

As in sacred music in the West, Tibetan music has complex systems of musical notation and a long history of written religious song. “A vital component of Tibetan Buddhist experience,” explains Google Arts & Cultures Buddhist Digital Resource Center, “musical notation allows for the transference of sacred sound and ceremony across generations. A means to memorize sacred text, express devotion, ward off feral spirts, and invoke deities.”

Some of these features may be alien to secular Western Buddhists focused on mindfulness and silent meditation, but to varying degrees, Tibetan schools place considerable value on the aesthetic experience of extra-human realms. As University of Tulsa musicologist John Powell writes, “the use of sacred sound” in Tibetan Buddhism, a “Mantrayana” tradition, acts “as a formula for the transformation of human consciousness.”

Tibetan musical notations, Google points out, “symbolically represent the melodies, rhythm patterns, and instrumental arrangements. In harmony with chanting, visualizations, and hand gestures, [Tibetan] music crucially guides ritual performance." It is characterized not only by its integration of ritual dance, but also by a large collection of ritual instruments—including the long, Swiss-like horns suited to a mountain environment—and unique forms of polyphonic overtone singing.

The examples of musical notation you see here came from the appropriately-named Twitter account Musical Notation is Beautiful and typeface designer and researcher Jo De Baerdemaeker. At the top is a 19th century manuscript belonging to the “Yang” tradition, “the most highly involved and regarded chant tradition in Tibetan music,” notes the Schoyen Collection, “and the only one to rely on a system of notation (Yang-Yig).”

The curved lines represent “smoothly effected rises and falls in intonation.” The notation also “frequently contains detailed instructions concerning in what spirit the music should be sung (e.g. flowing like a river, light like bird song) and the smallest modifications to be made to the voice in the utterance of a vowel.” The Yang-Yig goes all the way back to the 6th century, predating Tibetan Buddhism, and “does not record neither the rhythmic pattern nor duration of notes.” Other kinds of music have their own types of notation, such as that in the piece above for voice, drums, trumpets, horns, and cymbals.

Though they articulate and elaborate on religious ideas from India, Tibet's musical traditions are entirely its own. “It is essential to rethink the entire concept of melody and rhythm" to understand Tibetan Buddhist chant, writes Powell in a detailed overview of Tibetan music’s vocal and instrumental qualities. “Many outside Tibetan culture are accustomed to think of melody as a sequence of rising or falling pitches,” he says. “In Tibetan Tantric chanting, however, the melodic content occurs in terms of vowel modification and the careful contouring of tones.”  Hear an example of traditional Tibetan Buddhist chant just above, and learn more about Tibetan musical notation at Google Arts & Culture.

via @NotationIsGreat

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

It’s Official: The “Nones”– People Who Profess No Religion–Are Now as Big as Catholics & Evangelicals in the United States

The usual irregularities and shenanigans notwithstanding, the voting patterns of the U.S. electorate may undergo a sea change in the coming decades as the numbers of people who identify as non-religious continue to rise. One of the biggest demographic stories of the last few decades, the rise of the “nones” has been interpreted as a threat and as an inevitable reckoning for corrupt and scandal-ridden institutions driving millions of people out of churches across the country.

Politics and social issues are hardly the only reasons, though they poll second in list from a 2017 Pew survey. At number one is “I question a lot of religious teachings," at number three, the slightly more vague “I don’t like religious organizations.” It's maybe a surprise that nonbelief in God appears all the way at number four. Which speaks to an important point.

Not all of those exiting the pews have renounced their faith or converted to another, but huge numbers have joined the ranks of those who claim “no religion” in survey and polling data. Their numbers are now equivalent to Catholics and evangelicals, the two religious groups most in decline behind mainline Protestant churches. Political scientist Ryan P. Burge of Eastern Illinois University is not surprised. “It’s been a constant steady increase for 20 years now,” he says, pointing to data from a General Social Survey visualized in the graph above.

The last decade has seen the sharpest upturn yet, with "nones" now estimated at 23.1 percent of the population. If this rise—and subsequent plateaus and declines in the major religious groups surveyed (and the batch of non-Judeo-Christian “Other Faith”s dismissively lumped together)—continues, the shift could be dramatic. In 2014, 78% of the unaffiliated, according to Pew polling, were raised in and walked away from a religion. The shift in identity among young people tends to correlate with a shift in politics.

The "rising tide of religiously unaffiliated voters," writes Jack Jenkins at Religion News Service, is "a group that a 2016 PRRI analysis found skews young and liberal." It's one that might offset the oversized influence of white evangelicals, who now make up 26% of the electorate and 22.5% of the population.

Any such conclusions should be drawn with several caveats. “Evangelicals punch way above their weight,” says Burge. “They turn out a bunch at the ballot box. That’s largely a function of the fact that they’re white and they’re old.” And, he might have added, many are in less economically precarious straits than their children and grandchildren, more susceptible to mass media messaging, and less prone, by design, to finding their vote suppressed. A 2016 PRRI report noted that “religiously unaffiliated Americans do not vote in the same percentages as evangelicals, and are often underrepresented at the polls.”

Additionally, and most importantly to point out any time these numbers come up: “the nones” is an entirely overdetermined category full of people who agree on little, but they're not signing up for any church committees any time soon for a handful of loosely-related reasons. If herding atheists, only one part of this group, is like herding cats, trying to corral 23% of the population without any shared creed or specific ideology is corralling an even less predictable menagerie. We need to know far more about what people affirm, as well as what they deny, if we want a clearer picture of where the country’s politics—if not its government or policies—might be headed.

via Kottke

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Isaac Asimov’s Guide to the Bible: A Witty, Erudite Atheist’s Guide to the World’s Most Famous Book

Painting of Asimov on his throne by Rowena Morill, via Wikimedia Commons

Everyone should read the Bible, and—I’d argue—should read it with a sharply critical eye and the guidance of reputable critics and historians, though this may be too much to ask for those steeped in literal belief. Yet fewer and fewer people do read it, including those who profess faith in a sect of Christianity. Even famous atheists like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Melvyn Bragg have argued for teaching the Bible in schools—not in a faith-based context, obviously, but as an essential historical document, much of whose language, in the King James, at least, has made major contributions to literary culture. (Curiously—or not—atheists and agnostics tend to score far higher than believers on surveys of religious knowledge.)

There is a practical problem of separating teaching from preaching in secular schools, but the fact remains that so-called “biblical illiteracy” is a serious problem educators have sought to remedy for decades. Prominent Shakespeare scholar G.B. Harrison lamented it in the introduction to his 1964 edited edition, The Bible for Students of Literature and Art. “Today most students of literature lack this kind of education,” he wrote, “and have only the haziest knowledge of the book or of its contents, with the result that they inevitably miss much of the meaning and significance of many works of past generations. Similarly, students of art will miss some of the meaning of the pictures and sculptures of the past.”

Though a devout Catholic himself, Harrison’s aim was not to proselytize but to do right by his students. His edited Bible is an excellent resource, but it’s not the only book of its kind out there. In fact, no less a luminary, and no less a critic of religion, than scientist and sci-fi giant Isaac Asimov published his own guide to the Bible, writing in his introduction:

The most influential, the most published, the most widely read book in the history of the world is the Bible. No other book has been so studied and so analyzed and it is a tribute to the complexity of the Bible and eagerness of its students that after thousands of years of study there are still endless books that can be written about it.

Of those books, the vast majority are devotional or theological in nature. “Most people who read the Bible,” Asimov writes, “do so in order to get the benefit of its ethical and spiritual teachings.” But the ancient collection of texts “has a secular side, too,” he says. It is a “history book,” though not in the sense that we think of the term, since history as an evidence-based academic discipline did not exist until relatively modern times. Ancient history included all sorts of myths, wonders, and marvels, side-by-side with legendary and apocryphal events as well as the mundane and verifiable.

Asimov’s Guide to the Bible, originally published in two volumes in 1968-69, then reprinted as one in 1981, seeks to demystify the text. It also assumes a level of familiarity that Harrison did not expect from his readers (and did not find among his students). The Bible may not be as widely-read as Asimov thought, even if sales suggest otherwise. Yet he does not expect that his readers will know “ancient history outside the Bible,” the sort of critical context necessary for understanding what its writings meant to contemporary readers, for whom the “places and people” mentioned “were well known.”

“I am trying,” Asimov writes in his introduction, “to bring in the outside world, illuminate it in terms of the Biblical story and, in return, illuminate the events of the Bible by adding to it the non-Biblical aspects of history, biography, and geography.” This describes the general methodology of critical Biblical scholars. Yet Asimov’s book has a distinct advantage over most of those written by, and for, academics. Its tone, as one reader comments, is “quick and fun, chatty, non-academic." It's approachable and highly readable, that is, yet still serious and erudite.

Asimov’s approach in his guide is not hostile or “anti-religious,” as another reader observes, but he was not himself friendly to religious beliefs, or superstitions, or irrational what-have-yous. In the interview above from 1988, he explains that while humans are inherently irrational creatures, he nonetheless felt a duty “to be a skeptic, to insist on evidence, to want things to make sense.” It is, he says, akin to the calling believers feel to “spread God’s word.” Part of that duty, for Asimov, included making the Bible make sense for those who appreciate how deeply embedded it is in world culture and history, but who may not be interested in just taking it on faith. Find an old copy of Asimov’s Guide to the Bible at Amazon.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

A Visual Map of the World’s Major Religions (and Non-Religions)

Images by Carrie Osgood

“The nones are growing,” we hear all the time, a reference to the huge increase in people who check the “none” box in documents that ask about religious beliefs. In the U.S., at least, the response to this news seems to be fivefold: fear, denial, anger, celebration, and speculation that can seem to go beyond what the data warrants. National Geographic, for example, trumpets “The World’s Newest Major Religion: No Religion,” though it’s not exactly clear what no religion means.

Checking “none” does not signify holding specific convictions or affiliations. It can be an irritated reaction from those who find the question intrusive, an evasion from those who refuse to think about the issue, a response from those whose beliefs are not reflected in any of the choices offered, a confident statement of thoroughgoing philosophical naturalism…. One way to look at the data is that it’s inconclusive.

But it could tell some big stories as well, such as “the secularizing West and the rapidly growing rest” (a story complicated by China, the country with the largest “atheist/agnostic” population). While the internet has made it easier for atheists and agnostics to connect and organize, these labels do not name any consistent set of beliefs or non-beliefs, and they can apply to secular humanists as well as to certain adherents of forms of Buddhism, Taoism, paganism, etc., who may not explicitly identify as religious but who have some spiritual practices...

But whoever they are, the “nones” do appear to be growing, accounting for around a quarter of the population in the U.S. and Europe—where in some countries, such as the Czech Republic, closer to half the population identifies as nonreligious. The story of the nones is counterbalanced by the massive spread of religion, mostly Christianity but also Islam, among the “rest” of the world. Designer Carrie Osgood of the world travel site Carrie On Adventures has given us a handy visual reference (view in a large format here) for the global situation in the infographic above.

Drawing on data from the United Nations Population Fund—which she previously used to create a series of population and urbanization maps—and from the World Religion Database, Osgood visualizes the relative populations of each country by sizing them as proportional pie charts, with their major religions represented by different colors. (These numbers are based on 2010 figures and may have changed considerably in the past decade.) Christianity is still the world’s largest religion, at 32.8%, with Islam close behind at 22.5%.

Yet as Frank Jacobs points out at Big Think, such sweeping generalizations—like those about the “nones”—miss critical details needed in any discussion about world religions. “The map bands together various Christian and Islamic schools of thought,” writes Jacobs, “that don’t necessarily accept each other as ‘true believers,’” and may even view each other as enemies and heretics. Large, thriving religious groups like Sikhs are lumped in with “others,” a category that can include numerically marginal or disappearing belief systems.

Likewise, “there’s that whole minefield of nuance between those who practice a religion (but may do so out of social coercion rather than personally held belief), and those who believe in something (but don’t participate in the rituals of any particular faith).” Especially in countries with a majority faith—and with painful social or legal penalties for those who don’t subscribe—the question of how many people really identify out of true conviction cannot be ignored.

Which brings us back to the “nones,” a category, however fuzzy, that may be far larger than the numbers show, and could include millions more in majority-faith countries, if those people lived under a secular government, in a pluralistic society, and felt free to speak their minds. The "nones" have maybe always been around. Only now, in much of the world at least, they're far more visible. But that's just one possible story among the many we can tell about this data.

View and download a larger version of the infographic map at Osgood’s site and see a detailed breakdown of the data at Big Think.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Watch Seder-Masochism, Nina Paley’s Animated, Feminist Take on the Passover Holiday: The Animated Feature Film Is Free and in the Public Domain

Seder-Masochism, copyright abolitionist Nina Paley’s latest animated release, is guaranteed to ruffle feathers in certain quarters, though the last laugh belongs to this trickster artist, who shares writing credit with ”God, Moses or a series of patriarchal males, depending on who you ask.”

Bypassing a commercial release in favor of the public domain goes a long way toward inoculating the film and its creator against expensive rights issues that could arise from the star-studded soundtrack.

It also lets the air out of any affronted parties’ campaigns for mass box office boycotts.

“The criticism seems equally divided between people that say I’m a Zionist and people that say I’m an anti-Zionist,” Paley says of This Land Is Mine, below, a stunning sequence of tribal and inter-tribal carnage, memorably set to Ernest Gold’s theme for the 1960 epic Paul Newman vehicle, Exodus.

Released as a stand-alone short, This Land Is Mine has become the most viewed of Paley’s works. She finds the opposing camps’ equal outcry encouraging, proof that she’s doing “something right.”

More bothersome has been University of Illinois Associate Professor of Gender Studies Mimi Thi Nguyen’s social media push to brand the filmmaker as transphobic. (Paley, no fan of identity politics, states that her “crime was, months earlier, sharing on Facebook the following lyric: 'If a person has a penis he’s a man.'”) Nguyen’s actions resulted in the feminist film’s ouster from several venues and festivals, including Ebertfest in Paley’s hometown and a women’s film festival in Belgium.

What would the ancient fertility goddesses populating both art history and Seder-Masochism have to say about that development?

In Seder-Masochism, these goddess figures, whom Paley earlier transformed into a series of free downloadable GIFs, offer a mostly silent rebuke to those who refuse to acknowledge any conception of the divine existing outside patriarchal tradition.

In the case of Assistant Professor Nguyen, perhaps the goddesses would err on the side of diplomacy (and the First Amendment), framing the dust-up as just one more reason the public should be glad the project's lodged in the public domain. Anyone with access to the Internet and a desire to see the film will have the opportunity to do so. Called out, maybe. Shut down, never.

The goddesses supply a depth of meaning to this largely comic undertaking. Their ample curves inform many of the patterns that give motion to the animated cutouts.

Paley also gets a lot of mileage from replicating supernumerary characters until they march with ant-like purpose or bedazzle in Busby Berkeley-style spectacles. Not since Paul Mazursky’s Tempest have goats loomed so large in cinematic choreography…

Paley’s use of music is another source of abiding pleasure. She casts a wide net—punk, disco, Bulgarian folk, the Beatles, Free to Be You and Me—again, framing her choices as parody. "Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here" accompanies the seventh plague of Egypt (don’t bother looking it up. It’s hail.) Ringo Starr’s famous "Helter Skelter" aside (“I’ve got blisters on my fingers!”) boils down to an apt choice for plague number six. (If you have to think about it…)

The elements of the Seder plate are listed to the strains of "Tijuana Taxi" because… well, who doesn’t love Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass?

Paley’s own religious background is of obvious interest here, and as with her previous feature, Sita Sings the Blues—also in the public domain—the autobiographical element is irresistible. A 2011 audio recording provides the excuse to portray her father, Hiram, who died the year after the interview was conducted, as a Monty Python-esque God. The senior Paley was raised in an observant Jewish household, but lost faith as a young man. An atheist who wanted his children to know something of their heritage, Passover was the one Jewish holiday he continued to celebrate. (He also forbade the kids from participating in any sort of secular Christmas activities.)

A wistful God with the complexion of a dollar bill, Hiram is at times surrounded by putti, in the form of his parents, his contentious Uncle Herschel, and his own sweet younger self.

For these scenes, Paley portrays herself as a spirited “sacrificial goat.” This character finds an echo at film’s end, when “Chad Gadya,” the traditional Passover tune that brings the annual seder to a rollicking conclusion, is brought to life using embroidermation, a form Paley may or may not have invented.

Perhaps Paley’s most subversive joke is choosing Jesus, as depicted in Juan de Juanes’ 1652 painting, The Last Supper, to deliver an educational blow-by-blow of Passover ritual.

Actually, much like Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady and Natalie Wood in West Side Story, Jesus was ghost-voiced by another performer—Barry Gray, narrator of the midcentury educational recording The Moishe Oysher Seder.

As you may have gleaned, Paley, despite the clean elegance of her animated line, is a maximalist. There’s something for everyone (excepting, of course, Mimi Thi Nguyen)—a gleaming golden idol, a ball bouncing above hieroglyphic lyrics, actual footage of atrocities committed in a state of religious fervor, Moses’ brother Aaron—a figure who’s often shoved to the sidelines, if not left outright on the cutting room floor.

We leave you with Paley’s prayer to her Muse, found freely shared on her website:

Our Idea

Which art in the Ether

That cannot be named;

Thy Vision come

Thy Will be done

On Earth, as it is in Abstraction.

Give us this day our daily Spark

And forgive us our criticisms

As we forgive those who critique against us;

And lead us not into stagnation

But deliver us from Ego;

For Thine is the Vision

And the Power

And the Glory forever.

Amen.

Watch Seder-Masochism in its entirety up top, or download it here. Purchase the companion book here.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in New York City for the next installment of her book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain, this April. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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