Tuesday, September 28, 2010

And You Thought Math was Hard

I think it is high time that youth pastors and others who are spiritual mentors to teens begin showing students the full range of complexity in Scripture. Help them engage with that. Don’t tell them the Bible is simple and if they just read for five minutes a day their lives will get better. That’s a lie. Tell them the Bible is hard. It’s difficult to understand if you don’t study it. It is confounding sometimes. But it’s also worth reading because it’s the story of God and humans and how we interact and clash with God and each other.

[...] Wrestling with the Bible in all its authentic glory is difficult for us just like it’s difficult for students. We want to be able to give them a neat package of faith that they can put under their bed and live with. It’s not only what we want, it’s what their parents want and it’s what our pastors want.
Calvin at The Floppy Hat

Edit: Added the second part of the quote - the best part!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Just as I Suspected

Turns out that objects separated by a few centimeters in elevation experience time dilation, just as Einstein predicted. What this means of course, is that we taller people think faster than those who are height, and apparently intellectually, challenged. If it is any consolation to the rest of you, being closer to the ground means you'll live longer.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Iluvator Shrugged?

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.
John Rogers - Kung Fu Monkey

ht:Paul Krugman

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Quantum of Moolah

[...] when you hear about quantum mechanics and consciousness, you should assume the author is a crackpot unless proven otherwise. Moreover, assume that they want your money. ...
Lawrence Krauss, interview with

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reasons to Believe

Up until this point I have found that precious few of reasons people seem to have for believing in God have attracted my respect: (1) a personal, internal experience and (2) the apparent design of the universe. It is easy to see the former as pretty persuasive to the experiencer and yet it is nearly powerless in convincing others. I have some sympathy for those who see a creative hand in the workings of the universe but science offers an answer to almost every question that God supposedly answers about what we see. He is all but reduced to hiding in the gap before the Big Bang.

Now, I have developed a sympathy for another impulse that leads many to Faith: alienation. If you do not feel like the world you are forced to move through is not your real home, you are fortunate. If you did not feel this way as a teenager, you were on some heavy meds! We all feel this way to some degree at some time. How simple to conclude that our feelings are actually instincts pointing to the unseen truth, that there is another place, another person whose discovery will complete us and stop these feelings forever. Heck, Disney made this movie at least half a dozen times: Sword in the Stone, Little Mermaid, Hercules, Aladdin, ... Expose this temptation to religious indoctrination and proselytizing and that one true home becomes a heavenly one, that missing father becomes the father of all creation.

I would rank this particular faith-producing influence on the same level as the creationist impulse - compelling in the absence of a critical or skeptical outlook and yet not so difficult to root out as John Wesley's "heart strangely warmed."

I imagine that as I get older, mellower and (hopefully) wiser I will add to this list, acknowlege and accept the range of experiences that lead people to do the (sometimes squirrelly) things that they do. And, yes, the current post was triggered by my own experience of alienation although in this case at odds with the church (don't get me started on "Purity" lock-ins). I can only hope that I will not be so close-minded that only my own discomfort can ever lead me to accept the validity of the experiences of others. [Can we count that as an atheist prayer? ;)]

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Maybe you have to be British

I just finished Remains of the Day and frankly, I don't get it. This thing won the Booker prize? This is one of the "Books you can't live without"? I'll admit that it was clever and the author very skillfully plotted the story so that the protagonist became aware of his own past only gradually. That said, I never identified with the main character. By the time the lights go on I don;t have enough investment in Stevens to weather the ending. So the whole thing just went kind of "plop" for me.

Not impressed

I think I am the only one in the country who did not like Toy Story 3. To me the whole plot was a remake of the second one - Woody is separated, a Buzz Lightyear acts like he doesn't know any of the Gang and the villain is a toy who is convinced that children only destroy toys. None of the personal struggle or growth that we got from the first two movies is seen. Instead we get Mission Impossible.

Now, the end was quite remarkable but unfortunately it came as a jar after the previous 90 odd minutes.