You are viewing stuff tagged with religion.

This Life

James Wood wrote a tremendous review of Martin Hägglund’s This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom called If God Is Dead, Your Time Is Everything. Since I’ll be quoting a review that quotes the book, we’re two degrees removed from the source, but I don’t have the book yet and there are tons of ideas here I want to mark. Here’s one:


Riddled with Despair

Andrew Sullivan’s short and potent The Madness of King Donald levels-up when it ends with a subject rather more profound than our current administration:

I’ve managed to see Scorsese’s Silence twice in the last couple of weeks. It literally silenced me. It’s a surpassingly beautiful movie — but its genius lies in the complexity of its understanding of what faith really is. For some secular liberals, faith is some kind of easy, simple abdication of reason — a liberation from reality. For Scorsese, it’s a riddle wrapped in a mystery, and often inseparable from crippling, perpetual doubt. You see this in the main protagonist’s evolution: from a certain, absolutist arrogance to a long sacrifice of pride toward a deeper spiritual truth. Faith is a result, in the end, of living, of seeing your previous certainties crumble and be rebuilt, shakily, on new grounds. God is almost always silent, hidden, and sometimes most painfully so in the face of hideous injustice or suffering. A life of faith is therefore not real unless it is riddled with despair.


Life and Death

Just finished giving Ess a bath and putting her to bed. Her adorable, beautiful pink cheeks were sweating a bit at the playground this evening, as it is in the 80s and quite humid. Not much wind. She ran and ran and we walked behind her, steering her out of harms way and keeping her from the things for which she wasn’t yet ready. Now, the sun is setting on this summer evening, one of the longest of the year, and I sit out on the patio, watching the sun set, next to our tomato plants, herbs, and kale. Everything around me is growing and alive and I love moments like this because I can actually convince myself that all the trouble of maintaining all of our stuff and our finances, all that stuff I trouble myself with isn’t what is important. This perspective above the forest doesn’t last long until I fall back to be blinded by the trees. Weekdays seem to be more foresty, weekends more elevated.



I was just reading Spirituality and religion in oncology (Peteet, J. R., & Balboni, M. J. (2013). CA: a cancer journal for clinicians.), which quantifies the positive effects of going beyond the physiology of cancer to the person enduring the disease, especially at the end of their life. Here’s a part that struck me:


2 comments left

God and Taxes

Report: Majority Of Money Donated At Church Doesn’t Make It To God — The Onion:

A shocking report released Monday by the Internal Revenue Service revealed that more than 65 percent of the money donated at churches across the world never reaches God. “Unfortunately, almost half of all collections go toward administrative expenses such as management, utilities, and clerical costs,” said Virginia Raeburn, a spokesperson for the Lord Almighty…


Religion and Politics

People avoid discussing religion or politics in polite company because those discussions cut through all the layers of pretense in which we shroud ourselves. These two topics, one focused on the divine and the other on the human, throw open the windows and shutters of a person’s mental house, allowing all the neighbors to scrutinize another’s deepest secrets, thoughts and prejudices. So, religion and politics are a wonderful way to quickly understand a person’s true character. My understanding is that this is not the purpose of polite conversation.

God Talk

God Talk - Stanley Fish Blog - NYTimes.com:

By theological questions, Eagleton means questions like, “Why is there anything in the first place?”, “Why what we do have is actually intelligible to us?” and “Where do our notions of explanation, regularity and intelligibility come from?”

The fact that science, liberal rationalism and economic calculation can not ask — never mind answer — such questions should not be held against them, for that is not what they do.

And, conversely, the fact that religion and theology cannot provide a technology for explaining how the material world works should not be held against them, either, for that is not what they do. When Christopher Hitchens declares that given the emergence of “the telescope and the microscope” religion “no longer offers an explanation of anything important,” Eagleton replies, “But Christianity was never meant to be an explanation of anything in the first place. It’s rather like saying that thanks to the electric toaster we can forget about Chekhov.”

Eagleton likes this turn of speech, and he has recourse to it often when making the same point: “[B]elieving that religion is a botched attempt to explain the world … is like seeing ballet as a botched attempt to run for a bus.” Running for a bus is a focused empirical act and the steps you take are instrumental to its end. The positions one assumes in ballet have no such end; they are after something else, and that something doesn’t yield to the usual forms of measurement. Religion, Eagleton is saying, is like ballet (and Chekhov); it’s after something else.

1 comment left

Zoroastrians in the New York Times

Zoroastrians in the New York Times - A tertiary yet fascinating overview of Zoroastrians today and how (ironically) their views towards religion are causing their numbers to dwindle. The heart of the article, I think lies here:

Mr. Dastur is a priest in much demand to perform ceremonies because of his melodic chanting of the prayers. He and his wife, Jo Ann, have two grown daughters. Neither married a Zoroastrian.

“They’re good human beings,” Mr. Dastur said. “That’s more important to me.”

The very tenets of Zoroastrianism could be feeding its demise, many adherents said in interviews. Zoroastrians believe in free will, so in matters of religion they do not believe in compulsion. They do not proselytize. They can pray at home instead of going to a temple. While there are priests, there is no hierarchy to set policy. And their basic doctrine is a universal ethical precept: “good thoughts, good words, good deeds.”

I must only scratch the surface of a tough question, but this seems to point towards the fact that religions, by their nature, must threaten their members with “ours is the one true way” in order to grow.


MadLibs and The Trinity

Reinventing a company or brand is done from the inside out. This explains why new logos, mission statements, and seminars on “effectively deducing the resource-efficient pathway to maximizing workforce output” are frequently downplayed and rejected as band-aid fixes to deeper problems within an organization. That’s where this ridiculous article from today’s paper about the Presbyterian reinvention (rebranding?) of the Trinity comes into play:


3 comments left

Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse

Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse - About 4 years ago, in the midst of my troubled adolescence, my Dad recommended I read this book. I checked it out from the library, and got it to my desk. I never read it. I think I should.

2 comments left

Breaking All 10 Commandments

Breaking All 10 Commandments - And he does it before breakfast, too.

Flying Spaghetti Monsterism

Flying Spaghetti Monsterism - One of the most creative commentaries on America’s current “intelligent design in school” issue.

It asks an important question: if the government endorses multiple creation viewpoints, where does it stop? Why can’t Flying Spaghetti Monsterism receive equal billing as Evangelical Christianity?