Oh, this is lovely:
God or no god, this is a sound to pierce the heavens.
h/t: Rod Dreher
Oh, this is lovely:
God or no god, this is a sound to pierce the heavens.
h/t: Rod Dreher
I’m one of those don’t-hate-religion non-religious types. Most of the time.
And then I read smug shit like this:
To a person, the new atheists hold that God is some being in the world, the maximum instance, if you want, of the category of “being.” But this is precisely what Aquinas and serious thinkers in all of the great theistic traditions hold that God is not. Thomas explicitly states that God is not in any genus, including that most generic genus of all, namely being. He is not one thing or individual — however supreme — among many. Rather, God is, in Aquinas’s pithy Latin phrase, esse ipsum subsistens, the sheer act of being itself.
I’m all about being, so you’d think I’d be all over this. You’d be wrong.
Hell, I’ve read Heidegger, and even if I can’t stop myself from muttering “Nazi gasbag” every time I pick him up, I do think he is worth picking up. It’s tough to talk being without talking nonsense, and while ol’ Martin (that “Nazi gasbag”) peddles his share of nonsense, he does also manage to make sense. Unlike Robert Barron.
God is not a supreme item within the universe or alongside of it; rather, God is the sheer ocean of being from whose fullness the universe in its entirety exists.
Actually, this does make a kind of sense: God is everything, such that without God, there is nothing. It’s a handy bit of sleight-o-hand: How does one know God exist? Because without God, there would be nothing. Easy-peasy.
It’s not a bad tautology, as tautologies go, but, like Pascal’s wager or Lewis’s trilemma, it seeks to lock down not just the answer to a question, but the questions themselves. This is THE question, one is told, and no follow-ups and no other possible interpretations, which might lead to other possible responses, are allowed. No questioning the question.
Barron allows that science allows us to learn a great deal about our material reality. The problem, he says, is that these materials are themselves “contingent”, i.e., dependent upon another reality rather than being real in and of themselves. How does he know this? God-is-everything!
We are surrounded on all sides by things that exist but that don’t have to exist.
Now a moment’s meditation reveals that all of the conditioning elements that I mentioned are themselves, in similar ways, contingent. They don’t explain their existence any more than the computer does. Therefore, unless we permanently postpone the explanation, we have to come, by logical deduction, to some reality which is not contingent and whose very nature is to exist.
Um, no. Perhaps the explanation is that everything is contingent, nothing is necessary, and existence itself a kind of chance, nothing more.
Barron accuses skeptics of incurosity and irrationality for not bothering with the question of why is there something rather than nothing, but not having an answer doesn’t mean the question isn’t asked; not all questions are contingent upon an answer.
As for Why should the universe exist at all? Who says anything about “should”? It does, for now, and for awhile longer. If it someday ends, it doesn’t mean it never existed at all.
Same goes for us. We don’t have to be here, and yet we are, for now. So what are we to do with this chance?
That, to me, is the real question, and wonder, of being.
Critters, critters, everywhere, in shapes
we I could not have dreamed up, yet they exist.
Nature is amoral, red in tooth and claw, fragile, a human construct, scary, comforting, everything all around us. . . whatever else nature is, she is a mother:
Distant cousins. . .
. . . and near cousins:
I take nothing away from religious people, who find gods in all the weird wonder in the world, but I see all at this of the world, of nature, of existing for no other reason than existence itself.
Nature has no need of god, nor does one need god for wonder.
That’s not an argument for or against god, but an observation that there is already so much, on its own, already here.
(All photos from ZooBorns.)
How can a political freak not have fun with a fellow political freak—oh she of the Goth eyeliner (which only serves to accentuate her cheerful bats-in-the-belfry look) and psycholbin-inflected understanding of American history, someone given to hiding behind bushes to spy on an open protest and screaming about lesbian bathroom-kidnap plots—like Michele Bachmann?
I’ve had a lot of fun with the Republican representative from the sixth district of Minnesota, and, frankly, I expect to continue doing so. She may be an ideological menace who would make a terrible, terrible president, but she’s so manifestly unsuited to the job that I have no real worries about her delivering an inaugural address in January 2013.
So I feel free to mock her at will.
There is, however, one (semi-? sur-?) real issue that her candidacy brings to the political debate, that of the influence of her husband, Marcus. Ms. Bachmann, you see, proclaims adherence to the “wifely submission” model of marriage.
How she and her hub run their home is, in the main, not my business, and the practice of a spouse influencing a politician’s decisions is hardly new (if only John had listened to Abigail’s admonition to “remember the ladies”. . .). But outside of Edith Wilson’s alleged takeover of the presidency during husband Woodrow’s stroke-induced decline, it’s generally conceded that whatever the influence, the president is still is charge.
If, however, that politician states outright that she is not in charge, then what are constituents and voters to decide?
Marcus Bachmann, after all, isn’t the one taking the oath of office. He makes no promises to “uphold and defend the Constitution”, nor does he hold any responsibility to his wife’s constituents. He is in charge without being accountable.
Now, given that Rep. Bachmann stated in 2006 that “The Lord says be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands” a month before she was elected for the first time to the House, and has been re-elected twice, it’s entirely possible that her constituents decided they were just fine with voting for someone who answered to her husband before she answered to them. Maybe that they both claimed to answer to God was sufficient assurance that even if this greater accountability to the Lord translated into a lesser accountability to the people, the greater was for the better.
The issue of authority in marriage is a big issue in conservative Christian circles. The “complementarian” versus “egalitarian” models of marriage each (apparently) finds support in scripture, and even those marriages which claim the husband as head can look awfully equal. And with or without any scripto-ideological positioning, marriage can be a bugger.
Given these complexities, it’s possible that those who hear “submissiveness” translate the term into “agreement”, and are thus unbothered by any notion that Mr. Bachmann might tell Mrs. Bachmann what to do; they’re simply a married couple, like any other, trying to keep it together.
That’s one end of the interpretive spectrum, anyway. At the other end, however, is the possibility that the Mister is in charge, and that what he says, goes, period. No oaths of office, no promises to constituents, matters as much as the God-infused authority of the Man of the House.
I’ll take the cynical middle course: Rep. Bachmann may see no conflict in choosing amongst her various accountabilities—her God, her husband, the Constitution, the citizens in her district—because these constituencies all line up. That is, because she doesn’t recognize that there might be other legitimate interests, because she doesn’t acknowledge the existence of those who legitimately (i.e., are motivated by something other than hatred or ignorance or some sort of anti-American bias) oppose her, she doesn’t have to reckon with the mess of pluralism—which is to say, the mess of American and global politics today.
Nope, she’s just able serenely to float above it all, hand-in-hand with her hubby, utterly unable and unwilling to engage in the realities of life as Other people live it.
We’re not real to her, and thus not to be taken seriously.
Which I guess frees us not to take her seriously, either.
h/t Jill Lawrence, The Daily Beast; Jason Horowitz, The Washington Post; Molly Worthen, New York Times Magazine
I do loves me some apocalypse—fictionally.
But actual death and destruction does not make my heart go pitter-pat, unless by ‘pitter-pat’ one means racing-with-anxiety-and-despair-not-joy.
Yeah, I have my moments of ‘fuck ’em all’ and ‘people suck’, but I have no real sense that all humans should perish, or that by large numbers of us perishing the survivors will be redeemed. I don’t think we can be made clean or whole or without all the crap that led us to the apocalypse in the first place. Maybe the survivors would chomp on one another, a la Cormac McCarthy, or maybe they’d*separate themselves into chosen communities and live-and-let-live; either way, it’s not at all clear to me how this is in any way ‘better’.
(‘*They’, not ‘we’: I have a chronic disease which requires daily treatment; absent that treatment, I die. It’s possible that I could manage to stockpile the thousands of pills necessary to keep me going for years, but I doubt it. The apocalypse will have to go on without me.)
C. and I had a conversation about this the other night, and while I’ll desist saying much about her position beyond noting that she’s more optimistic about post-apoc possibilities than I, I will admit that I was a bit startled by her, mm, cheer.
I am not cheerful about humans, pre- or post-apocalypse. We’re greedy and self-centered and violent and far too willing to use one another for our ends. Sure, we have our good qualities—I happen to like that we figured out how to make wine, chocolate, and a comfy pair of slippers—but we’re not all that.
We are, however, all that we have.
Now, the godly among us might disagree, but except for the world-hating of the god-believers, most of the faithful admit there can be joy in the world.
In any case, this is our world: beat-up and weird and so, so complicated and ours. This world is ours, and we are who we are in this world. If this world ends, so do we.
And I think that would be a damned shame—again, not because we’re so great, but because we’re not, because we don’t have to be, because we can be beat-up and weird and so, so complicated. I’m pissed that we’re fucking our world over because in so doing we’re making it increasingly difficult to find out just how we can be human in the world. The possibilities we’re foreclosing. . . .
There are some among us, of course, who do revel in the foreclosure. Some may be secular (extremist environmentalists, for example), but it’s that minority of the godly who look forward to the end-times who grab the bulk of the attention.
Which brings us, belatedly, to Waiting for Armageddon. This short documentary, now streaming on Netflix, follows a group of dispensationalists who are straining at the confines of the world and looking forward to its end—an end which begins in Jerusalem.
It’s basic Bible-prophecy stuff: The in-gathering of the Jews in Israel is foretold in scripture, as is the rebuilding of the Temple, one-world government headed by the anti-Christ (and, for some pre-tribulationists, the early return of Christ), the rapture of the faithful, the tribulation (think ‘great wailing and gnashing of teeth’, ‘four horsemen’, etc.), and the millennial reign of Christ on earth. One hundred forty-four thousand Jews will convert and be saved, while the rest will perish, (along with almost everyone else), all as a prelude to the great cleansing and the springing forth of heaven on earth.
Great, huh? One guy said it was going to be a lot of ‘fun’. Well, y’know, he said, maybe not fun-fun, seeing as how so many will suffer and die horrible, horrible, deaths, but fun in that I was-right-and-I-get-to-watch kind of way.
Whoo-hoo! Totally not at all like the crowds cheering the lions ripping apart the Christians in the Coliseum.
Some of the folks at least managed to be chagrined at the thought of so much death, and most preferred not to dwell on how exactly the Al-Aqsa mosque and al-Haram ash-Sharif complex will be removed without utterly destroying the site of the putative third Temple—but hey, God will take care of all that.
What matters most of all of that these people are right, and if it takes the destruction of the world to prove them in their right[eous]ness, so be it.
Of course, they’d say it’s not about them, it’s about God, that they’re just following the Word. But they’re so God-damned happy about all of this, so God-damned sure that this is The Way, that it’s difficult not to conclude that this is less about God and more about them.
They don’t like the world, and they want to see it end.
Not coincidentally, those who are younger are less avid for The End. They want to marry and have kids and then maybe the end could come, as one young woman said, ‘When I’m 85,’ i.e., when she would end anyway. She doesn’t despise the world quite enough for it to end before she’s had a chance to enjoy it.
These dispensationalists are a minority even among evangelicals, who are themselves not representative of all of Christianity. The film was too short fully to engage cross-Christian talk on The End, nor even those who believe that we are in End Times and are pained by the prospect of the extermination of billions of people.
Instead, we are left with the smiling faces of those who want to see us all end.