Friday, November 2, 2007

The religious significance of wiki record-locks

When I wrote my latest post about the MicroMedia Meetup, I had to specify labels for the post. These labels are not only used to access targeted content on this blog (see the bottom of this post for examples of business, politics, and technology content), but are also used by Technorati to tag posts of interest to the Technorati community.

Well, one of the labels that I needed to use was obvious: "micromedia110107."

Another one was also obvious: the aforementioned "technology" label.

The third may have puzzled some people. Why did I label that post with a "religion" label?

Because (again proving my initial point) the content of the post was more significant than its form.

As a reminder, here's what I tweeted in response to the MicroMedia Meetup exercise, in response to the question "What is the future of communication?"

#micromedia110107 no technology can correct failures in human clarity-we are the weakest link-wars, rumors, divorces will continue

If you spend any time looking at communication, you realize that lack of communication is a major problem in human society. A couple of examples:

It should be noted that neither of these communication failures could have been solved by using the latest gadget - no cell phone or syndication format could have taken care of these failures (though I will grant that they could have provided MECHANISMS to solve the failures - but so could a wired phone call, or even a stamp and a piece of paper).

On the other hand, "Communication Breakdown" brought fame and fortune to Led Zeppelin. Go figure.

Back to religion - my favorite Christian communication breakdown occurred not once, but twice, in the book of Genesis. Let's look at the second instance, starting here:

Genesis 20:1-2 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

1 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, 2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, "She is my sister." Then Abimelech king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.

Eventually the truth somes out, and an explanation is requested:

Genesis 20:9-12 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

9 Then Abimelech called Abraham in and said, "What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should not be done." 10 And Abimelech asked Abraham, "What was your reason for doing this?"

11 Abraham replied, "I said to myself, 'There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.' 12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife.

In other words, Abraham came up with several justifications for his not telling the WHOLE truth. " guys are so evil that I'd get killed if I said I was Sarah's husband!" "Um...well, she really IS my sister...sort of." " dog ate my homework!" Whatever.

Two lessons from this:

  • It goes to show you that older women can still be beautiful.

  • The Bible isn't a story of perfect heroes. If someone would have made it up, they could have made Abraham, David, Peter, and the rest look at lot better than they actually were.
This is probably a great question from someone who posts under an alias, but how often do I tell the whole truth? How often do you tell the whole truth? And when significant information is suppressed, who is hurt as a result?

So, what does all this have to do with wiki record-locks? Um...nothing. I guess I wasn't telling the truth. Let me redeem myself by constructing something:

In the pre-Christian model, the nation of Israel spoke to God through the tabernacle/temple hierarchy. Even before there was a temple, there was a Levite hierarchy which was responsible for the priestly function, and sacrifices and the like were administered by this group. The nation of Israel could not go into the Holy of Holies. Only one person could:

There is one command with regard to the High Priest which I believe begins to shed some light. The High Priest, and certainly other priests can never enter into the Kodesh Kodashim, except for one day of the year-Yom Kippur. On this day, the Jews are forgiven for their transgressions. The High Priest only enters on this day into the Kodesh Kodashim and brings in the incense from the inner altar and places it in front of the Ark and causes it to cloud that room. He leaves and enters only one more time to remove the fire pan with its ashes. What objective is there of the command that none should enter into this room?

Interestingly, a peculiarity of this room is that God says that He causes a voice to emanate from this room from between the two cherubs which are above the ark. This implies that God is commanding us not to approach the point at which He causes this voice to project from. This I feel demonstrates the idea that one cannot approach God with one's limited understanding. As God had told Moses, "You cannot understand Me while alive". We can only "go so far". Therefore, abstaining from entering this room demonstrates that we cannot understand God in our present state.

This statement, from Moshe Ben-Chaim, demonstrates the pre-Christian view. Christians, of course, believe that the bottleneck to God has been removed. Take special note of verse 12 in the passage below:

Ephesians 3:7-13 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

7I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power. 8Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

While I agree with Moshe Ben-Chaim that we cannot comprehend the infinity of God, and should not dare to presume to approach God on our own, yet Christ gives us the power to do just that.

And we don't have to wait for our five-minute turn.

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