Friday, August 23, 2013

PZ Myers On the Good Life

The Washington Post published this little hairball by PZ Myers, "An Atheists Guide to the Good Life."

He admits:

A curious thing happened to my thoughts on the way to composing this essay.  

It was supposed to be about how to be an atheist, but I realized that that wasn’t right. Atheism is the default position. You don’t have to do anything to be an atheist, but you have to work awfully hard to not be one — atheism strips away a lot of superfluous nonsense, rather than piling on remarkable requirements and strange creeds and bizarre pointless rituals that you need to obey. So instead, I thought I’d address the believers and tell you what baggage you can throw off ol’ Conestoga Wagon of life, the stuff that we know is completely unnecessary because atheists have traveled the trail without it, and come out just fine.
It's hardly curious that an essay on how to live the good life as an atheist turned into a screed against religion, Prof. Myers. That's kinda your thing. I guess the 'steemed professor couldn't think of anything connecting atheists to the Good Life, so he went to his true "default position", attacking Christianity. (I'm not saying you can't connect atheism to the Good Life, just that Dr. Myers couldn't.)

Ditch the Sunday church services first thing. Hanging out with friends and neighbors is great, we atheists do it all the time, but guess what? We do it without a boring dude in a dog collar droning away at us, without sitting in those uncomfortable pews, without snoozing through the same old homilies.
Instead, let's ditch class with Prof. Myers. Who needs a boring old dude in a professors tweed jacket ( or Hawaiian shirt) droning away at us while sitting in those uncomfortable classroom chairs, snoozing through the same old lectures.



Telling us we’re going to be set on fire by a malicious god if we don’t behave isn’t just unbelievable, it’s insulting — we don’t need extortion or offers of imaginary paradise cookies to do the right thing. Why do you?
We don't, Doc. Have you been getting your theology from South Park again? I don't believe what you think we believe either! But those paradise cookies sound delicious!




Dr. Myers on prayer:

Atheists have the simplest answer: no one is listening. It fits just as well, even better, than all the convoluted explanations you might come up with. And it means you can stop the futile babbling, hang up and do something productive.
If  "no one is listening", maybe it's not God. We've already stopped the futile babbling because Jesus told us to!  Hey, Doc! You and Jesus agree on prayer. Boy, that Jesus must be smart as a university professor!

On love:

Most importantly, you never have to feel bad about reciprocating love with another person, because medieval rules to govern relationships have all lost their divine foundation.
Medieval rules? They're way older than that!  Just because you don't believe in a building doesn't mean it has no foundation.




 On society:
Speaking of medieval rules, throw away the hierarchical view of society. Rulers aren’t better than those they rule, priests are not above the congregation...
 Woo hoo! No more university professors!



On death and dying:

Have you ever lost someone you love? You know what churchy people will tell you: They’re in a happier place, God needed another angel, they’re having strawberries and waffles with Jesus right now. Atheists won’t do that: they’ll tell you that it’s OK to grieve.
Yes, it is OK to grieve. I've been told that all my life by "churchy" people. We don't become angels, although having strawberries and waffles with Jesus sounds awesome! And it gives me an excuse to show one of my favorite clips:



 If you want to read the whole article, here.


 Dr. PZ Myers....


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Big Mac Attacks!

"Big Mac tastes like the smell of success." Yeah. So *that's* what I smell at McDonald's. I thought I tasted the smell (WTH?) of corporate and caloric excess. But my little paper McDonald's hat (remember those?) is off to all those employees working hard to make something of themselves. I just hope it's not a Big Mac.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Why I Am Catholic--My Mother's Prayers


My answer to Patheos.com's question:

When I left the Catholic Church after graduating college to join a Baptist Church (that long story here), my parents were quite concerned. My dad’s response was to have me meet with a priest, a professor of moral theology. My mom got out her rosary.

My parents found some comfort that I remained a Christian, though not a Catholic. Over the years I graduated from a Southern Baptist seminary in Ft. Worth, TX. My father died while I was there; mom kept praying.

After I moved back to NY, I attended other Baptist churches. Eventually, I left one intending to find another church, but never did. One day my mom asked me to think of going back to the Catholic Church since I wasn’t attending any church. I told her no, I wasn’t interested. She went back to her rosary.

As you might guess, I wasn’t long before I decided to give my old parish Church a try. I never had a chance! My mom was praying to the Blessed Mother for me. After a few weeks of research and talking with Fr. George, I made my confession in Advent of 2004.

Never underestimate the power of a Mother’s prayers.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Spiritual Friendship


Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen

Today's feast of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen is a reminder of the power of spiritual friendship. Both men were bishops, but were nearly opposite in personality. St. Basil was a pastor and preacher, and a excellent bishop (of Caesarea in 370). He is the father of Eastern Monasticism. St. Gregory was more of an introvert and contemplative. Their friendship developed while they were students in Athens. They are both Doctors of the Church. You can read more here.

Below is the text of a sermon By St. Gregory Nazianzen from today's Office of Readings.






Two bodies, but a single spirit

Basil and I were both in Athens. We had come, like streams of a river, from the same source in our native land, had separated from each other in pursuit of learning, and were now united again as if by plan, for God so arranged it.
  I was not alone at that time in my regard for my friend, the great Basil. I knew his irreproachable conduct, and the maturity and wisdom of his conversation. I sought to persuade others, to whom he was less well known, to have the same regard for him. Many fell immediately under his spell, for they had already heard of him by reputation and hearsay.
  What was the outcome? Almost alone of those who had come to Athens to study he was exempted from the customary ceremonies of initiation for he was held in higher honour than his status as a first-year student seemed to warrant.
  Such was the prelude to our friendship, the kindling of that flame that was to bind us together. In this way we began to feel affection for each other. When, in the course of time, we acknowledged our friendship and recognised that our ambition was a life of true wisdom, we became everything to each other: we shared the same lodging, the same table, the same desires the same goal. Our love for each other grew daily warmer and deeper.
  The same hope inspired us: the pursuit of learning. This is an ambition especially subject to envy. Yet between us there was no envy. On the contrary, we made capital out of our rivalry. Our rivalry consisted, not in seeking the first place for oneself but in yielding it to the other, for we each looked on the other’s success as his own.
  We seemed to be two bodies with a single spirit. Though we cannot believe those who claim that everything is contained in everything, yet you must believe that in our case each of us was in the other and with the other.
  Our single object and ambition was virtue, and a life of hope in the blessings that are to come; we wanted to withdraw from this world before we departed from it. With this end in view we ordered our lives and all our actions. We followed the guidance of God’s law and spurred each other on to virtue. If it is not too boastful to say, we found in each other a standard and rule for discerning right from wrong.
  Different men have different names, which they owe to their parents or to themselves, that is, to their own pursuits and achievements. But our great pursuit, the great name we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians.

Monday, December 31, 2012

A Prog-rock Christmas: Day 4

Day 4 brings us back to Chris Squire--with a twist. The video is miguelbass of YouTube playing his bass to a track of Personet Hodie from Chris Squire's Swiss Choirs.


Hewing the Hobbit

Finished reading "The Hobbit": good!  Then I saw the movie. To Paraphrase GK Chesterton: “A good movie  tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad movie tells us the truth about its director.”

Don't worry! You can trust me!


The truth the movie tells us about Peter Jackson is that he has become a Gollum. He thinks "The Hobbit" is his to do with as he likes. Where he hews to the story the movie is fine. When he hews "The Hobbit", cutting from and adding to as he wills, it's a mess.

Spoiler alert!

To be fair, some of the additions work quite well. The council at Rivendell with Galadriel and Saruman gave a sense of import and danger to the journey. I also liked the prologue with the Ian Holmes' Bilbo and Frodo.

However, having Azog, "The Pale Orc", survive an earlier battle to be the enemy of Thorin  Oakenshield brings several changes to the story, and not for the better. As other have said, it is no longer simply "The Hobbit". It is now a prequel to Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" movies. It is his precioussss, not ours.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Prog-rock Christmas: Day 3

This song done here by the Moody Blues isn't all that proggy or rocky, but it's a lovely melody. The original melody was "Soleado", a tune from 1972 by Ciro Dammicco . The English lyrics were written a few years later by Fred Jay, According to Wikipedia.




And here's the classic Johnny Mathis version:


Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Prog-rock Christmas: Day 2

OK, a little catching up to do!  The second video is from the "Chis Squire's Swiss Choirs" CD.  In addition to being a amazing bass player, Chris is a great vocalist, especially his harmonies. Here he is with his "Swiss Choir":


A Prog-rock Christmas: Day 1

This a series of music posts for, hopefully, 12 days of Christmas with a progressive rock theme. Ready?

First up is a video from the elf himself, Jon Anderson. This is my favorite prog Christmas CD. It has both new and old; great originals and old British carols. Here's one of Jon Anderson's originals.