Monday, July 21, 2008

Interesting, at least...

J was reading this book and I picked it up after the previous post, wherein atheists got in quite the uproar on this radio program I listened to. They can be quite uncharitable to people who believe in God, those atheists! I guess I am always surprised at the rancor people have regarding faith. They are often times quite angry. There is alot of emotion in them...and I guess it is surprising to me because if you believe there is no God (yes, it also requires faith to believe there is no God), it seems like you would just shrug after saying so and go your way, without much ado.

From what I read though, Sam Harris' book "The End of Faith" is really quite hot with emotion. He obviously feels very strongly about not believing in anything. Why does that always strike me as the opposite of what one would expect? I guess it is because it seems that when a person finds their answer, it seems they would achieve a certain amount of peacefulness, satisfaction and a sort of closing of the book of questions about origins, purpose, morality and other large philosophical questions. Instead, Harris is the opposite of peaceful, he is combative and seeks to rip apart everything that is not what he believes. Huh.

I guess I would want to be happier once I decided to believe a certain way, not more argumentative. It seems that confrontational way indicates an uncertainty or insecurity about those beliefs. Kind of like the person who is so offended by the bible they cannot bear to hear it referenced. Why? If you truly don't believe, why do you even care?

Never mind. I picked up this book and for the first time I am following Ravi and glad he and I are seeing the same things. I humbly admit that sometimes when I listen to him, he gets so abstract it is like work to follow his line of thinking.

A long time ago when my life was aimless, sort of depressing and full of searching, before I decided to pursue the Christ of the Scriptures this thought came to me:

Even if when all was said and done, and we are dead and wherever we go afterward, would having pursued Christ one's whole life have been a waste of time? If someone laughed at me for my faith after dying...would I feel like a sucker? My answer informed my accepting the Christian faith "No," Even if after if was all over and it was revealed that Christ was a hoax perpetrated on the most gullible, I would still feel like I had chosen the best possible path here on earth. I would not be ashamed, embarrassed or otherwise ever regret having chosen to follow Christ.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Think Out Loud: Faith in the Northwest

In a previous post, I talked about a pretty standard issue Portland resident who was against religion, particularly Christianity.

I agree with the guy who said that the opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is utter indifference. So along the lines of "Me thinks thou doth protest too much", on one angle, the amount of anger against religion makes me wonder. Why so much offense? Why so much threat? Why not ignore and walk away?

Edit: In talking with J about this, he made a good point: alot of the the really aggressive proselytizing has come from the generation before ours when there was alot of pressure to convert people. There is still mission, but with today's young folk, many have distanced themselves from this aggressive approach. That being said, the aggressive are still there. Still, I have run across enough people who wanted me to convert to this or that, and I primarily just ignore them and wish them well. Maybe it's the hellfire and damnation that turned them off? Ya think?

So today on Think Out Loud, they talked about faith in the Northwest. You can listen to the show online or read the thread. In the thread there were:

People who did not have a favorable opinion of religion/faith or Christianity
Baha'i talking up the Baha' faith
Some people who worshiped with trees and nature
Some people who felt Christians were pushy, judgmental and resented organized religion
Some intrepid Christians (very few)

And the only reason to post this is because I think that it nicely portrays the religious climate here in Portland from a secular point of view. From a biblical point of view, that climate fits well with what the Bible says about the offense of the word and the incomprehension of the Message.

I appreciate this conversation immensely. I appreciate it when people even talk about this, because it is such a touchy subject, no one wants to go near it. It's like talking about abortion. So here the door is open, what will the church say back? Are they listening? What response is there? Can we keep this conversation going?

Some pertinent links from the guests. The Rebelution: a site for teens about being Christian, what that looks like.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dear Mr. Spurlock

Dear Morgan,

I take your name attached to a movie as an identifier that it will be well-reasoned, above average for what TV offers and sometimes reaching and achieving excellency, and sometimes goofy. I also think you are the only host I have ever watched that knows how to do the job correctly. I like the fact that your angle is off beat but fair, your investigation is typically relentless and balanced. You see, I am in your corner.

However, with this second season of 30 days, I feel like 2 of the 3 episodes on this disk, the cards were stacked. You wanted the viewers to come away with a certain feeling, more so than you wanted to be balanced and fair.

For example, the guy who was against immigration, the one who volunteered for the Minutemen, I felt the whole episode was designed to change his mind, rather than to ever give the Mexican family a sense of empathy as to why illegal immigration can be actually a very bad thing. He was dogmatic, a gun toter, and rather than painting a coherent picture of the victims of illegal immigration, who are lower middle class Americans as well as illegal immigrants and their families, the episode seemed designed to enlighten him. I would like to think that at least a few people against illegal immigration are so out of compassion, rather than being dogmatic self appointed policers of the border, whose anti-immigrant sentiment at times sounds like an allowed version of neo-nazism.

Additionally, I didn't feel the atheist and the Christian family were a fair matchup.

The Christians by and large looked like rich, white people who were barely barely able to scratch the surface of their beliefs before their brains tilted, where the "atheist" clearly had give alot of thought about her decision.

There are alot of not very smart or informed atheists, and there are also many critical thinking Christians out there. A more fair matchup might have had a Christian family that didn't merely typify the churchgoers who try to convert everything in sight.

I thought it must have been really hard for the atheist too.

A better version of this show, whose premise was to elicit mutual understanding between atheist/agnostic people and Christians, was to put them both at a level of wrestling with spiritual issues. Were they both thinkers who were mature enough to not resort to fiery emotion at the first incongruence of beliefs, there could have been some very thought-provoking conversations. As it was, the father of the Christian family was thick with incomprehension of how anyone could not believe the way he does. His approach left the atheist woman feeling threatened and scared to talk, less able to articulate her beliefs.

Anyway, will continue to watch and show your stuff in my classrooms, but your fairness is really crucial to what you do. If it seems unbalanced, alot of credibility is lost...

I won't even go in here on how abyssmal Chalk was. Meh, please. Don't insult our intelligence!