"The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge." - Albert E.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
When will they get the memo? No wonder Americans vote on American Idol more than they vote in real elections that actually affect them. Everythings a popularity contest.
Sorry its been so long. I've been bogged down with full time remodeling and haven't had the will or energy to even look at the news. I have some serious catching up to do.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Religion's Greatest Enemy?
Here's another great op-ed by the wisest guy around, Deepak Chopra from IntentBlog:
Decades after Monty Python came to an end, John Cleese is dapper, intelligent, freethinking, and still funny. I heard him give an impromptu talk and came away with one of his best lines: "The biggest enemy of religion is spirituality." The talk was in California among people who immediately applauded.
On a certain level it's only a quip, because spirituality, in its truest sense, has no enemies. The same can't be said of religion. Nobody needs reminding of that, yet last week two sorrowful examples were added to the list. In Sudan mobs marched in the street demanding death for a hapless British school teacher who had allowed her class of seven-year-olds to name a teddy bear Muhammad. That incident ended only through the intervention of two Muslim members of Parliament flying in from Britain to beg intercession from the president of Sudan.
The second, more tragic example came from Iraq. "60 Minutes" reported on the few surviving Christians in Baghdad, pointing out that under the screen of civil war, there has been a vicious purge of almost 90% of the million Christians in that country. As churches were systematically destroyed, their parishioners were either killed or forced to flee into exile. One was reminded by both these stories that religion has never needed an enemy outside itself. Or perhaps it has never learned to live without one, which is saddest of all. It would be easy enough to put the entire blame on fanaticism and fundamentalism, yet the question remains: what next?
What would fill the vacuum left if Islam and Christianity both folded up their tents and decamped from all the violence, intolerance, prejudice, and misery that exists in the name of God? Not just atheists but many believers have implicitly chosen secular society as the only solution to religion's failure. If science isn't already our religion, should it be? Rationality seems like a clean alternative to age-old dogmas and creeds.
Personally, I see two great objections. The first has to do with spirituality. It may not be synonymous with religion, but the two aren't opposites, either. Countless seekers have made a beginning in church synagogue and mosque. The uneasy relationship between organized religion and someone's personal search for God is still alive. Second, and more important, I don't accept that the spiritual impulse is an irrational alternative to science. Science has no patent on reason, and in the age of atomic weapons, to praise reason alone is radically foolish. Sanctity of life is being trampled every day in Iraq through technologies of mechanized death invented by objective science. Spirituality stands for higher consciousness, and that includes the consciousness of reason, imagination, psychology, and religion. Understanding the nature of God, which was an objective set by Einstein, requires the use of as much intelligence as any of us can summon.
The subtle trap we have set for ourselves is to equate Islam with the troubles of the entire Mideast. That would be like blaming the Black Death on the Vatican. Just as Europe in the fourteenth century was totally permeated by Catholicism, leading everyone to look to God as both the cause and the solution to the bubonic plague, so today masses of Arabs have no other world view but Islam. An act as innocent as naming a teddy bear has theological import. People threatened by the Black Death thought that their every act also had theological import. We need to see that the Mideast is a place dominated by despots and royal families, where secular education has been suppressed and a freethinking middle class disallowed. In the name of a privileged few, millions of people have been forced to live in ignorance generation after generation. If they cling to an absolutist world view that contradicts reason, what alternative was ever given them?
Which is not to let Islam off the hook, only to say that what spirituality has to offer -- the expansion of consciousness beyond rigid beliefs of any kind -- is the ultimate solution. The Mideast needs a massive dose of consciousness, but in saying that, the same holds true at home.
Spirituality is an open-minded pursuit of truth that can include all forms of knowledge, theological as well as scientific. Deepak doesn't specifically come out and say it, but what this post is really criticizing is any form of 'blind faith'. It's impossible to know with absolute certainty what awaits us after death, or whether or not there's a God who keeps a list of whether we've been bad or good. Spirituality is about ideas, not beliefs. Ideas are flexible and are easily changed in light of new information. Beliefs stay rigid and are by definition, resistant to change. That's not to say that they don't change over time, because they do.... only at a glacial pace. In all of history, the world has never changed as rapidly as it is now in terms of technology, business, communication and scientific understanding. The biggest question is, 'are religious beliefs, which have changed very little over thousands of years, capable of keeping up?'
Friday, December 07, 2007
Al Franken, Veterans for Franken Rally
"I don't pretend to know what it's like to face hostile fire. To leave my family for an uncertain fate. To lose friends on the battlefield. All I do is tell a few jokes, and go home. It's a pretty good gig... No matter what you think of our foreign policy, to cut veterans health care, to cut funding for the VA, to cut funding for mental health care, to cut funding for research into Traumatic Brain Injury (the signature wound of this war), to allow Walter Reed to fall into decay and disrepair... that is a failure of our responsiblity to those who took responsibility for us. When I'm in the United States Senate I will not forget what our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen have done, and I won't forget what they have earned. And I will fight everyday to make sure we honor our commitment to them."
"I will fight to make sure that we fully fund the VA budget in 2009, in 2010, in 2011... each and every year so that every veteran, EVERY VETERAN, can have quality mental, physical, and long-term care FOR LIFE."
--Al Franken is the real deal. This may turn into a full-time endorsement for Franken's campaign. I've been planning on volunteering for his Senate run in '08, and hopefully will get started on that as soon as Christmas break starts and finals are over. Al deserves your support, 'cuz he's good enough, smart enough, and gall darnit, people like him. Plus, anyone's better than that Bush Administration lapdog and opportunist, Norm Coleman. Watch the whole video. You will never see a traditional politician be more genuine than Al.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
I've never really brought this up here because it's by far the biggest non-issue of all time. I know some people who are convinced that there's some kind of gay conspiracy to take over the world. Last year, a conservative blogger tried to argue the point to me that homosexuality actually threatened the existence of the human race, as if it were some kind of deadly, infectious disease that could instantly afflict anyone at anytime. That was definitely weird, but this is weirder:
Conservapedia Most viewed pages
1. Main Page [1,932,910]
2. Homosexuality [1,624,156]
3. Homosexuality and Hepatitis [518,044]
4. Homosexuality and Parasites [434,381]
5. Homosexuality and Promiscuity [422,121]
6. Gay Bowel Syndrome [401,266]
7. Homosexual Couples [373,962]
8. Homosexuality and Gonorrhea [332,077]
9. Homosexuality and Anal Cancer [294,357]
10.Homosexuality and Mental Health [293,705]
Retrieved from "http://www.conservapedia.com/Special:Statistics"
These are the stats from the conservative-alternative website to wikipedia. There's a million different ways to interpret these results, but I'll let you be the judge.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Why Do Conservatives Deny Global Warming?
From Daily Kos:
At least for Iraq and creationism this movementarian absolutism has an element of self interest to it. Contrariwise the farther you step back from the climate “debate” the less sense it makes. In fact it looks almost exactly like the tobacco “debate” that was really settled some time in the 50’s, but stayed alive for decades after because of a brilliant and blindingly cynical PR campaign by the tobacco lobby. The entire gamut of false front astroturf groups, slanted studies and bogus experts forcing the appearance of a debate comes straight from the tobacco playbook. The only question is why the right wing felt such a compelling need to get behind it this time. Is there something inherently liberal about avoiding catastrophe?
It seems to me that the sad saga of warming denial illustrates a major weakness of conservative monementarianism. Climate science isn’t really partisan in any meaningful way, yet as long as the movementarians think that attacking the science will score a victory against liberalism they will go on attacking just the same. All the petro lobby needed to do was polarize a scientific matter along political lines and the rightwing movement willingly became what amounts to the private army for a cause almost completely tangential to their individual interests. Retired tobacco execs look on with a mix of humor and deep jealousy. -Tim F.
--SHORT ANSWER: Because they're incapable of critical thinking and of objectively analyzing any issue. They do not believe in the TRUTH, only in individualism and self-interest... one of those interests being willingly brainwashed by people with big mouths who get big money by serving the self-interest of their corporate oil and gas buddies. I have yet to find a denier's argument that isn't chock full of holes and a gross misrepresentation of the facts.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Jon Stewart's the Coolest Guy Ever
From Mixed Media:
Stewart Will Keep Striking 'Daily' Writers Afloat
If the writers strike fails, it won't be on account of Jon Stewart.
In a show of solidarity with his fellow scribes, the Daily Show host has told his writing staff that he will cover all their salaries for the next two weeks, according to a well-placed source. He has also vowed to do the same for writers on The Colbert Report. A Comedy Central spokesman referred my inquiry about this to Stewart's personal publicist, who has yet to respond.
Stewart's intention, says the source, is to ensure his writers will face no financial hardship should the strike, which kicked off at 3 a.m. local time, conclude within that timeframe.
Meanwhile, both Stewart and Stephen Colbert are reportedly working on their contingency plans in case it doesn't. "There are indications that Mr. Stewart and Mr. Colbert will come back in tweaked form if the strike is a long one, leaning on interviews and other writer-free approaches to keep both programs alive in a very busy political season," reports today's Times.
It should come as no surprise that Stewart is a union die-hard: He tells the current issue of Rolling Stone that his childhood heroes included socialist leaders Eugene V. Debs and Norman Thomas.
UPDATE: It looks like he might not be. There's conflicting stories as of right now. There was definitely a rerun on last night, so it's not looking like it. I guess being paid by Stewart and still writing for the show defeats the entire purpose of a strike, but who knows. Either way I stand by the title, Jon's still the coolest guy ever.