On Theology

Today’s theological quote:

“…there would appear to be three theological options. 1) You can believe, as I do, that the universe is presided over by a being that is 100 percent malevolent but only 80 percent effective (which explains pretty much everything). 2) You can agree with logical positivists, who claimed that “God exists” is cognitively meaningless and hence neither true nor false. Or 3) you can become a Unitarian.”

–Jim Holt, in The Atheist Christmas Challenge

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Essay Questions

For the questions below, answer from both points of view – 500 words or less. (50 points each)

1) Authenticity vs. ‘fake’ in regard to etiquette. Does etiquette ‘oil’ interpersonal interactions or hinder honest discourse?

2) Communication in regard to scientific sociological study – does the inquiry conversation alone taint the data?

Pointless News Story of the Day

I’ve always liked the Washington Post, but this story on their website – found here about ‘The Nixon in Bush’ is a piece of crap. I have a lot of skepticism of Bush, but I don’t like seeing people attacked for nothing. This story goes out of its way to equate him with Nixon while offering plenty of evidence why he’s nothing like Nixon at all. Obviously, there’s a negative connotation when people think of Nixon, so what’s the point – besides a cheap shot?

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Letter of the Day

Fantastic letter published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch concerning the evolution of religion:

Letters, Editorials, Etc., Miss Point on ‘Schism’

Editor, Times-Dispatch: Recent news articles, commentaries, letters to the editor, and an editorial about the controversy raging in the U.S. Episcopal Church all seem to miss the point that all of the Sturm und Drang is about a departure of religious belief from institutional dogma.

The fact that some Episcopalians now believe that it is not “sinful” to live openly in a committed homosexual relationship is not a tragedy. Neither is the fact that they have begun to practice what they preach by electing as their bishop a man who is living in such a relationship. Even if this leads to a split in the worldwide confederation known as the Anglican Communion, there is no tragedy. For what we have is simply religious evolution.

Religion concerns beliefs about a deity (or deities) and “scriptures” believed to be the word of such deity. Religion involves a search for truth, but in the end it is still about belief. Because beliefs are subject to change as we learn more about our world and about people, all religions are subject to change. Such change often involves schism. In some cases, those who cling to the traditional beliefs separate from the majority who subscribe to new beliefs. In other cases, it is the few who subscribe to new beliefs who separate from the many who still cling to the traditional beliefs. But neither situation is a tragedy. Scientific knowledge evolves. Human understanding evolves. And with such evolution, religion also evolves.

Dogma is the stuff of institutions and hierarchy. Religious belief, on the other hand, is personal. And the two should not be confused.

Perhaps we should all focus more on the spirit of inclusion and less on the temporal ramifications, and embrace what the stand taken by the New Hampshire Episcopalians and their fellow believers represents. R.T. Greene. richmond.

Quote of the Day

“We’re over-saturated with commentary and with absurdity, and we’re numb because of it. Nothing shocks, so what’s the fun? And irony, oh, the… irony, that courses through the popular culture like a cancer. If nothing is serious anymore, then there’s nothing to satirize. Look at George W. Bush. He knows the game. He knows he’s a maroon, as Daffy Duck would say, and refuses to take himself seriously.”

–Berke Breathed, The Onion, August 15, 2001

Quote of the Day

“An elephant cannot come out here on the [Senate] floor. No animal can come out here. It does not have any congressmen or senators to represent it. So if somebody does not speak up, who do they have?”

–Bob Smith, former two-term Republican U.S. senator from New Hampshire

Letter of the Day

Here’s a Richmond Times-Dispatch letter that hits the nail firmly on the head.

Are Richmonders Really Disenfranchised?

Editor, Times-Dispatch: Though the people of the City of Richmond have spoken at the polls, we continue to hear the mantra of how a Mayor elected at-large will cause “under-representation of African-Americans.” Why? Because, in the current Mayor’s words, historically fewer African-Americans get out and vote. In other words, these people – eligible and presumably capable of voting – are being disenfranchised as a result of their own apathy, and the Mayor’s answer to that problem is to disenfranchise those people who historically make the effort to cast their votes.

If any group of people in this nation believes it is not getting proper representation, the answer is not to take the vote away from others but rather to get out and vote itself! The great leaders of the civil rights movement knew that. The Latino communities have discovered that. Special-interest groups galore operate on that fact. If the people can’t get to the polls, go get them or help them get absentee ballots. But don’t cry about them not having a voice! They all have a voice and those who really care have spoken: Four out of five want to have a say in choosing their Mayor.

My chosen candidates and issues may not always win, but it will never be because I took my right to vote lightly or didn’t care enough to cast my ballot. Laura Julian. manakin.

They Might Be Midgets… er Giants

John Flansburgh of the duo They Might Be Giants was on Washingtonpost.com today doing a live chat. Here’s my contribution to the questions and his answer…

“Richmond, Va.: What is your favorite musical group, band, etc.? Who do you listen to?

John Flansburgh: I say I like the Beatles, but I listen to mostly pre-rock big band and vocal music, soul and hip hop”

Why America is Losing Jobs

The reason America is losing certain types of jobs stems from three fundamental aspects of American culture. First, our education system is scholastic rather than utilitarian. While the job market has changed drastically in the last twenty years, our educational systems have not. Instead of preparing children for later work that they might do, ‘education’ socializes young people for homogeny and general skills.

Secondly, our economy is built on consumerism. As a result, Americans are constantly enticed to desire non-essential physical items. Our incomes, therefore, must match our appetites. We insist on being paid more than people in other countries who’s appetites have not been primed by American consumerism.

Thirdly, our culture rewards egotism and aggressive behavior. Pride once was defined as inordinate self-esteem, one of the ‘seven deadly sins’. Today, pride, in our society, is glorified and encouraged. Humility is seen as only slightly charming, if not weak, unless it’s a ploy. The roots of this ego aspect lie in our nation’s winner-loser mentality. Participation in sports, per se, is a way to socialize, have fun, and learn some life lessons (if one is open to such things). However, the winner-loser mentality is different. The winner-loser mentality is a mind-set in which winning is the sole objective of all endeavors. Therefore, every situation is framed in terms of winning and losing, regardless of whether the situation warrants such a frame.

These three factors – non-utilitarian education, consumerism, and egotism – join together to form a nexus that sucks non-glamorous jobs out of the country.