A son of the manse


My parents’ house
Originally uploaded by viralbus

There’s an article in the Sunday Herald about what it means to be a son/daughter of the manse.

Of course I was a son of the manse in Lutheran Denmark, not presbyterian Scotland, but I can still recognise many of the things they describe.

Sønder Vissing was not at all a desperately poor place, so I have no memories of dinners for the homeless and such things. But I do remember the council of the elders meeting in our dining room, the yearly gathering of the old folk in our house and garden, sitting in the front of the church and having everybody stand up and sit down depending on what I did, and most of all, that feeling of being supervised by the entire community at all times.

I think it does affect one’s personality, and I guess it’s therefore quite useful to have a label to stick on us, the children of the manse.

The Ten Commandments


Brick testament
Originally uploaded by fee-ach

The Ten Commandments are well known:

  1. I am the Lord thy God
  2. Thou shalt have no other gods before me
  3. Thou shalt not make for thyself an idol
  4. Thou shalt not make wrongful use of the name of thy God
  5. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
  6. Honour thy Mother and Father
  7. Thou shalt not murder
  8. Thou shalt not commit adultery
  9. Thou shalt not steal
  10. Thou shalt not bear false witness
  11. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife
  12. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house

Whereas most people probably would think of most of these as fairly sensible rules, they are definitely not always in line with the unwritten moral rules in our society. The first six are definitely not seen as very important, and there are some exceptions to the last six; for instance, euthanasia is defended by many people, and swinger-clubs are widely seen as a personal choice, not a mortal sin.

On the other hand, there are many rules that people in Western countries actually try to adhere to (or feel bad if they don’t), although they’re not on the old list. For instance:

  1. Thou shalt not break an agreement
  2. Thou shalt not do anything to somebody else they do not want thee to do
  3. Thou shalt not have sex with a child
  4. Thou shalt carry thy share and be responsible

There are probably many more like this. Can anybody here think of any?

The God factor


Pray without ceasing…
Originally uploaded by Hotori?.

According to this article, a Danish professor of psychology (who’s about to retire) has found out that atheists on average have an IQ that is 5.8 points higher than that of believers.

I wonder whether Harry Turtledove realised this when he wrote Between the Rivers in which believers are depicted as extremely stupid compared to the free-thinkers. 🙂

Anyway, if the article is correct, I wonder whether it’s believing that makes people less intelligent, or whether less intelligent people are more likely to believe in a god than more intelligent ones.