Saturday, September 09, 2006

I now have permission to post about the wedding

And... all I can say off hand is that those two were obviously meant to be together. Congrats guys!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Temple of Reason

This Sam Harris fellow seems to be an Enlightenment junky, both in the Buddhist sense, and more to the point, in the sense of the historical time period by the same name. This means he is a Modernist of sorts. He views religion as, a dangerous thing filled with irrational absolutes that get in the way of the common good and tolerance, the single most divisive thing in existence, and consequently the major cause of suffering in the world.
To maintain these claims Mr. Harris paints religion with a very broad brush. He tends to define religion on one hand very stereotypically- for example, the threat of hell is the only motivator that forces believers to act morally- and on the other hand very generally- really each time he says religion he should be saying ideology.
He also assumes that at base religion is nothing more than experience (which one must admit is no small thing). He is obviously influenced by Varieties of Religious Experience a book that compiled a lot of different examples of religious experience. In fact, some who follow this line of thought believe that they have found the part of the brain that only needs to be stimulated and a religious experience will occur.
As a sort of side note this line of thinking about religious experience, specifically the universality of religious experience and mysticism, is one of the issues that bible literalists are dealing with when they rely on the infallibility of the text. After all if Christian mystics and Muslim mystics are having the same experiences then it is of paramount importance to establish what is actually from God and what is simply a phenomenon. Their solution is Biblicism.
While Harris’ stated goal is a world where everyone is tolerant, since religion is the main obstacle to tolerance, he seems rather intolerant himself (which he would freely admit). At one point he suggests that fundamentalists should be undercut at all costs, even forcing moderates (in this case Muslims) to go to war against them. He’s saying his utopian atheist world is desirable at pretty much any cost, including inciting civil war. That seems to me to be an irrational absolute.
Being a pre-modern post-critical moderate evangelical Lutheran I can’t agree with Harris. Being pre-modern I believe that myth (properly defined) isn’t a bad thing, narrative is, if nothing else, a more soulful way to express truth than Harris’ cold science. Being post-critical I must concede that Harris is reacting to the realities of a post-9/11 world and attempting to combat what he perceives as the latent cause of those terrorist acts and prevent even more deadly attacks, for that I laud him. Being post-critical I must also affirm that Harris is failing to understand the complexity of faith, the worldview of the believer, and that his stereotypes are little more than paper tigers burnt only to illumine his views, for that I shame him. Being moderate and Lutheran I am horrified by his callous disregard for human life as exemplified by his advocacy of civil war in the Muslim world. Being an Evangelical I feel, to quote Jim Wallis, "the proper way to combat bad theology is good theology, not no theology."
At the end of the day Mr. Harris is pointing out the fact that religion is awful, in the truest sense of the word. It is powerful, it is awe inspiring, it can make a man strap explosives and nuclear fissile material to his chest and blow himself up in a crowded place, or give up all his possessions and feed the hungry.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Where my parents are right now

So my parents are barreling through Canada. They just stopped at the Worlds Largest Mall (see pics above).

Do Terrorists have day jobs?

Last night Jay Leno was making fun of the "American Terrorist" that has recently done a video attempting to compel America to convert to Islam. He said, since the guy is from Orange County he must be doing the tape in his mother's basement.
This got me to thinking about the logistics, relational as well as career wise that would be involved with being a Terrorist. Specifically is terrorism more a job, or a hobby. Is it a "Mild mannered reporter by day, Jihadist by night" sort of thing, or is UBL an economic sonser in more the think tank sense. That is does he provide enough money to terrorists that they are economically able to be a full time Jihadist?
Just some random thoughts.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


I have never seen as scary a movie as Descent. I wish I wasn’t living alone and it wasn’t nighttime right now! I’m literally shaking.
Descent is a horror movie about a group of women who go caving, get trapped in the cave, and find out they are not alone.
Yeah, it might sound rather typical (except that it is an all female cast) but it isn’t.

So. I’ve thought about the movie theologically as well. No big surprise there, that is kind of what I do. While Descent is no Pilgrim’s Progress I think there is a definite correlation between the physical descent of the women and their spiritual descent into violent depravity. At one point after the main character (Sarah) finds out one of her friends was killed (accidentally, but she doesn’t know this) by Juno, another of the women (who happens to have tricked the other women into going to this cave instead of another). Sarah then has to fight off one of the nocturnal humans (from now on designate as noc). She kills him, and then a female noc comes out and screams in sadness at the death of her mate. Sarah then gets into a life and death struggle in a pool of blood and mud (like some Mithrian baptism?), is submerged, and when she rises out of it becomes much more willing to kill.
Things get more and more gruesome until she and Juno reach an exit. They dispatch of what seem to be the three alpha nocs. Then Sarah does the unthinkable, she stabs Juno through the leg with her climbing pick and leaves her there as a horde of nocs come. And she escapes finds the Bronco and high tails it out of there. Then I think the last scene finally proves that this kind of descent, treachery and vengence, no matter how seemingly justified, doesn’t pay.
And now I’m going to sit up with all my lights on and read The Interpretation of the New Testament, 1861-1986 until I pass out on the couch. Hoping the Noc do not get me and devour me, or Sarah and Juno come and disembowel me in the night.

The Foundation is up again

The September issue is roughly "How have we changed as a country since 9/11." Come on folk, send me some essays!