This past December, I went to Union Square in Manhattan, where there is a regular farmers' market and a seasonal Christmas market, the latter of which attracted a lot more people than usual, so there was a teaming mass of humanity to contend with as well. On the pavement, one of them left behind what I first thought, from its larger-than-average-playing card size, and diagonal pattern on the back, to have been a tarot card. However, when I turned it over, it was like no other tarot card I had seen. (I wish I could upload a picture, I scanned it and save it as a .jpg.) It did have a color illustration of a torso of a man who looked like a somewhat gaudy version of Shakespeare but carried a lute. It was not a full-card illustration like the average tarot card but a double-ended one like the court cards in regular playing cards. Instead of any of the well-known regular playing card symbols or the specific tarot card symbolism, this card design has a small black eight-pointed star in each corner. I'm curious about what it is and what it means or if it has some kind of specialized usage/significance. It was in a clear plastic sleeve so I thought it was some sort of collectible item or a sample/display item from one of the merchants, but they weren't selling any other similar cards. posted by bunky at 10:45 PM - 7 answers
When I was studying history of philosophy I remember encountering a term which I recall as being either 'historical monism' or 'psychological monism', which referred to the (posited) error of assuming, I think looking historically, that the psychology of other peoples was like your own. I.e. of assuming that you could reasonably attempt to understand their motivations &c. It might have had something to do with heiddegger? It seems unlikely that this would've involved the term 'monism', though, looking back, and I'm not having tons of luck with google. Any clues? posted by cmyr at 2:18 AM - 11 answers
After a lifetime of messing around on the Web, I'm trying to approach it in a meaningful way. Stoic philosophy has made a difference in my life, and I was wondering if someone could point me out to thinkers or philosophers of that particular school who have spent time with Twitter, Facebook, etc.. posted by Jonny Camaney at 3:41 PM - 7 answers
I'm interested in knowing what people practicing any of the branches of Islam feel about the idea of recreating paradise on earth. The Quran describes paradise as a garden and there are historic gardens which use these descriptions as a template. Is making a garden templated on paradise as described in the Quran blasphemous in the eyes of Islam today? [more inside] posted by sciencegeek at 6:03 AM - 6 answers
Many people I know who aren't global warming skeptics are still planning to procreate. Though I might like to have a kid someday, the thought of their future quality of life strikes me as a potentially decisive ethical objection to it. While I've seen plenty of arguments against procreation that deal with the ethics of creating more consumers, that issue is distinct from the ethics of creating new sufferers. Can you point me to any well-reasoned arguments--whether yours or something you've seen, on either side of the issue--that deal with the ethics of choosing to bring children into a hotter world? [more inside] posted by Beardman at 10:49 AM - 41 answers
I'm at a bit of a crossroads in my life. This New Year's has been an introspective one for me, and has had me really contemplating my life's purpose - what I have accomplished thus far, and what I wish to accomplish from this point on. I've been doing some reading on the importance of finding and nurturing a purpose in one's life, which has certainly made a positive impact on my overall attitude and outlook. I want to discover more standouts from any genre - self-help, goal-setting, philosophical or otherwise - that have helped you, my fellow mefites, see the world and your respective circumstances in in a different, more positive light. [more inside] posted by Kamelot123 at 8:34 AM - 27 answers
I'm pretty depressed and want to become a monk temporarily to help me find myself again and be better person. Is this an unethical reason to be a monk? [more inside] posted by defmute at 3:40 PM - 34 answers
I'm trying to remember details about a book written about the US in the 1920s from the perspective of a visiting fundamental Muslim. The book, from my memory, was influential in the progress of fundamental Islamism (and later terrorism) as the book described the jazz age, black people, women's sexuality, etc. in a very bad light. Strangely Google isn't helping me with this. Thanks! posted by reductiondesign at 2:28 PM - 3 answers
I was raised in a kosher household, and am feeling like I would like to get back into keeping kosher. Kosher (or Kosher-ish) MeFites, how do you do it? [more inside] posted by Wordwoman at 1:37 PM - 18 answers
Reading his "Explaining Hitler" a while back, Ron Rosenbaum briefly mentioned reading various explorations of Hitler's personality, one of which touched on the possibility that Hitler was not actually Hitler, but was merely 'acting like Hitler' and was very aware of the gap between real man and created monster. And I just thought he was nuts. While not overly concerned with Hitler himself, I am extremely interested in that idea: that people can be themselves, or other than themselves, or intentionally act like themselves on a long-term and global scale. I feel that way once in a while myself. It is a very hard topic to google, though (or explain, clearly), and my skills are thin. Does anyone know of this literature he referred to or anything similar? Or even what such a thing might be called? [more inside] posted by umberto at 3:59 PM - 18 answers
I have a family member who is interested in Islam and wants to read the Quran. I want to get him a devotional study companion. He's not a convert (yet?) but wants to learn more, explore a little, and maybe start up a discussion group with others. Assuming my friend is totally new to Islam and wants a non-technical, relatively easy read, can you suggest a good one, ideally with a Kindle edition? I am open to other suggestions if you have a better Quran companion in mind. posted by blnkfrnk at 10:56 PM - 5 answers
My sister is interested in attending an unprogrammed Quaker meeting in the Boston area, and she'd like some suggestions about which ones might be best for her. The friendlier, the better, as she is new to Quakerism and somewhat shy. She is in her mid-thirties, but seems younger. Bonus points for materials that are helpful for introducing newcomers to Quakerism. She lives in Watertown but has a car and could attend anywhere in the Boston. posted by stinker at 2:14 AM - 6 answers
I’m trying to find a short story I read a long time ago, but google is coming up short. The story is about two strangers who meet on the road and begin talking. Through a series of questions and answers, they discover that they are both Christians, both Protestants, both from the same denomination, both from the same branch of that particular denomination, etc etc.
It keeps going on this way, with the strangers discovering that they belong to the same increasingly obscure religious sect. With each new discovery, they become more friendly and excited.
At the end of the story, they realize there is one small difference between them (something like one belongs to the parish across the street from the other), at which point the strangers hate each other and nearly come to blows.
What is this story, and where does it come from? posted by helloimjohnnycash at 7:46 PM - 10 answers
I am interested in Wicca. Always have been. Despite a conventional Christian ubpringing, my inner belief has always been that 'god' is part mother nature and part earth/environment. That's just the way my mind has always imagined 'god', and it's worked for me for over 40 years. Now I need to take it further. [more inside] posted by anonymous at 12:47 PM - 20 answers
I recall that there was a famous Christian Saint who had some type of mystical experience towards the end of his life, said something to the effect that all his previous work had been worthless and did not speak again until his death. Does anyone know who this was? posted by nickji at 2:45 AM - 3 answers
I know that Islam requires followers to perform the Hajj at least once in their lives if able... but what determines that ability? I presume it's a matter of health and financial concerns, but even so, I imagine many Muslims make great sacrifices and take significant risks for this. Are there generally-accepted measures of when it's understandable for someone not to make the Hajj, or is it all a matter of personal faith & judgment? I also know there was a time when one could send someone to more or less take their place... is that still an accepted practice? [more inside] posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:34 AM - 5 answers
I'm writing an update of a very old and very funny short book. In the original, the author rails against God; in my modernisation it will rail against the free market — replacing one invisible hand with another. I need someone who is very well-versed with economic theory, who still has their finger on the pulse, who has a sense of humour, and who is willing to brainstorm with me for an hour or two a week. More info inside. [more inside] posted by omnigut at 9:58 AM - 19 answers