Sunday, March 23, 2014

"Religion does Nothing but Cause War and Oppression" Seems Like a Claim of Almost Willfiull Ignorance.


But what about the Crusades? What about the Reformation? Well, I won't deny that those were travesties in the name of religion, but I will challenge the assertion that religion, properly understood, was the source of the violence. Now, there is a great deal of qualifying that is needed here. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to do this justice. However, I'll remind folks of the well documented stat that in the 20th Century we became incredibly effective at killing one another and did so on a previously unprecedented level. Between Mao, Stalin and Hitler, all of whom took up ideological banners that carried an explicitly atheist component, more people were killed in one century than all of the combined war-related murders in the preceding 19 centuries.

Meanwhile, we see people of faith coming together at an unprecedented level to together appeal to God for mercy and an end war.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Devotion to God Continues to Rise Despite the Assertion of His Death by Old and Now Dead White Guys.

I've been reading a little bit of Hegel and Nietzsche the past couple of semesters for school. It's worth spending the time and energy to review them, particularly if you wonder where we developed our bias of reading the world of people as a mass of individual self-deterministic consciousnesses. In any case the they helped develop and popularize the whole "God is dead" bit.

Interestingly enough, a century later, this supposed passing of God doesn't seem to have quite the impact that one might anticipate.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Anarchy and Oligarchs!


Yeah, your Mom's an Anarchist!


The joy of reading Chesterton is his reveling in the seemingly absurd only to have it realized on further discussion as the pinnacle of sanity. For example, anarchy is held up as an ideal and routine is cautioned against. However, Chesterton is not rejecting order, but is instead calling for a higher order. He draws a picture in which aristocratic decadence devolves into boredom and the card trick that seems to go unnoticed is that while the oligarchy talks about preserving tradition, it is in reality blazing a trail of superstitious progress for the sake of progress. So it is the case that most revolutions are not the peoples’ revolution but are instead foisted on society by the insanely rich and the pathetically bored and it is the home and the family that ultimately suffers as they are set upon with an imposed and alien control. Chesterton hints at his framework for a Distributist antidote to landlords and usury that would craft a society of “monomaniacal” specialists who must realize success in one particular function by giving “his all.”  

For Chesterton “this [aristocratic] sort of reform as routine is a failed proposal.” Instead, he proposes that what is needed is the wildness of the domicile and a healthy dose of feminine anarchy. This feminine anarchy would propose that “people should not be treated as the rule, but all of them as exceptions.” The home is the cultivator of wildness and the tragedy of the suffragette seems to be in the loss of herself as woman rather than any shackles of the household.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A King, a Lady and a Dragon...or a Good Man is Hard to Find

Man, I am sure glad to be married. And lucky too. Seriously, if I was my father-in-law and the 22 year old version of me asked to marry my daughter, (uh, that sounds weird but you know what I mean), it would have been a short conversation starting with "no" and ending with "because you're an idiot." And I would have been right too.

"It ain't me, it's the People that say"

Saturday, November 2, 2013

All Souls' Day

God is the God of the living. With confidence, we pray:
For all the dead whom we have loved in life: Raise them up, O Lord.
For all the dead of our parish: Raise them up, O Lord.
For all the dead among those who have harmed us: Raise them up, O Lord.
For all the dead whom no one remembers in prayer: Raise them up, O Lord.


Purgatory strips off from one person what is unbearable and from another the inability to bear certain things, so that in each of them a pure heart is revealed, and we can see that we all belong together in one enormous symphony of being.  - Pope Benedict XVI

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Not Just the Paradox of Choice but the Tyranny of Freedom Wrongly Understood

I little while ago I read Barry Schwartz's book "The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less".
Schwartz provides a nice summary of his work at one of the TED Conferences which can be watched here.
It is certainly worth your 20 minutes. Schwartz very well may rattle you a bit because he takes some  basic assumptions of our society out for re-examination. In fact, Schwartz doesn't rest at calling them assumptions he calls them dogmas and as he explains, the official dogma of all Western Industrial societies runs like this:
"If we are interested in maximizing the welfare of our citizens, the way to do that is to maximize individual freedom. The reason for this is that freedom is both, in and of itself good, valuable, worthwhile, essential to being human AND because if people have freedom than each of us can act on our own to do the things that will maximize our welfare and no one has to decide on our behalf. The way to maximize freedom is to maximize choice. The more choice people have, the more freedom they have; and the more freedom they have, the more welfare they have."
A main theme of Schwartz's work is in making observations that our overwhelming options for choice, (particularly in, but not limited to, the area of consumer goods), are making us less happy not more happy. Schwartz is a psychologist so he looks at this from a psychological point of view and discovers that people's brains just are equipped to deal with all of the options and endless possibilities. In other words, we are finite, and when marketeers offer us what is seemingly infinite or limitless, our brains simply cannot cope. In fact, this constant barrage of choice leads to what is often called analysis paralysis and when we do make choices we end up less satisfied with the choices we have made. A more troubling side effect of all of this choice however is the heightened anxiety that is always buzzing in our heads, internally. In summary, Schwartz prescribes low expectations and reduction, (but not elimination), of options for choice.

But that can't be all there is to it, can it?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I'm not religious...I just love the Lord.

This is a line that I've seen floating around Evangelical circles in some way, shape or form since I was a kid. I think it basically means: "We love Jesus but we acknowledge that sometimes religious people have done things that are an embarrassment to our um...their religion." Anyway, that line has been floating around at least since the 70's but the Emergent Evangelicals are having their own go at is if it's something they just discovered.

I always feel bad for the Emergents, (you know Brian McLaren, Rob Bell and that guy who wrote "Blue Like Jazz").  I mean I get what they're reacting to. Somewhere in the last couple of decades American Evangelicalism seems to have reached it's zenith. Of course, this is debatable but certainly there has been a surge of Evangelical influence in the near recent past and the Emergents were not impressed. Or, if they were impressed, they also experienced a let-down. Some of their criticisms are well placed. It's just that they're wrong about what they propose as far as how to fix things.

Another Emergent, Jim Palmer, prescribes 25 Reasons Why It Is Time For A Religion-Free Bible.
However, I really think Palmer's take really begs a few questions, (which I responded with in red).
1. The Bible is not a religious book.
Question: What sort of book is it then?