In the city of my childhood, great elms keep watch over blocks upon blocks of 100-year-old Victorian houses. Those houses would qualify as mansions, if not for the core neighbourhoods they inhabit.
The narrow, crooked streets of the Market area are defined by four- and five-story buildings with massive limestone pillars and elaborate cornices in red and tan brick. The historic painted banners on their sides proclaim the businesses which built them early in the last century.
I stand in an antique house on a street where spray-painted tags ride the back walls of garages with impunity. The tall windows, wide sills, the creak of a true antique oak floor instead of some modern imitation. This is the city as I knew it long ago. It is as it was in my grandparents’ time: a melting-pot of the world, falling down and yet still standing.
We are a motley fellowship around our hostess’s table. We have come here from the Congo, from Chicago, from English and aboriginal Canada, from the Russian Mennonite migrations, from Uzbekistan. Continue reading →
As usual, I’ll preface with the caveat that I’m no theologian, and have no aim to be. My sense of theology is constrained by commonsense and the recurrent question of what seems evident in the world around me. Neither pure rationalism nor pure empiricism suffices in the removal of cobwebs from my weird little mind.
And that, I think, is as it should be.
Though I tend to live deep inside my mind and have little to say in speaking, that inner world is filled and completed by the outer. Out the window today, I see thunder and lightning, the green of branches and leaves, the mist of rain on a quiet gravel road travelled only by those I’ve known all my life.
How, then, shall I relate to this beautiful, decaying world and those in it? Continue reading →
The case in question is the Secular Students’ Association website, which was subject to denial-of-service attacks and has incurred web security upgrade costs of $200 per month.
Adam points out that at another atheist blog, The Friendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta has raised funds to remove pro-atheism graffiti from churches, making the point that law-breaking is never an acceptable way to express a viewpoint. Adam suggests that perhaps Christians should step forward to demonstrate their commitment to the principles of free expression and lawful dialogue and dissent, and donate to the SSA’s hosting costs.
Although there’s a fine roundup of unpleasant commenters on Adam’s post, I don’t happen to think atheism does a lick of harm to Christianity. It helps. Continue reading →
To most people, smoke means destruction and danger ahead. House gone, forest ablaze, fields licked by an orange-and-black tiger. To some, it means deception. Mirrors and a haze of uncertainty.
To me, smoke is memory.
I am sitting on her couch, for she has moved to a final stopover and her furniture is no longer needed. She bought it after he was moved to the care home. It decorated the front room, but it was a placeholder. It does not have the scent of other, older things of theirs.
This matters to me because, although I identify Christian now as an adult, my grandparents were atheists. I credit them with a ton of my critical thinking skills. It’s an important part of my life, there are notions abroad in Christianity that deserve serious critique from an objective distance, and it’s something that can and should be discussed well.
As for what we are about to consider, sadly, this is not that.
In fact, it’s something where I can’t help having a little fun–I’m not out to be derogatory, it’s just that sometimes a lighthearted approach is the best medicine for these things.
Long, long ago, in a galaxy not so far away that we can’t hyperlink to it, Mr. Marcus Schooley Calvin “Wile E.” Quixote said this:
“What notitia of the gospel, or perhaps even its rational support, can the natural man assent to or place his trust in? Is not the message of the cross foolishness to those who are perishing?”
Translation: What part(s) of the information that Christ died for your personal sins (or even the information that supports this) can you agree with or place trust in when you don’t trust the whole religious concept of a Jesus Christ? The Scripture reference Marc quoted basically says, Isn’t this a self-evident contradiction?
Spiritual Enlightenment: It’s So Insulting
Herein lies the rub: along with this Scripture reference comes a snippet of isolated text which is claimed to say that those not enlightened by God cannot perceive God accurately. (As if those enlightened will then get it all perfectly right?) Essentially, it’s claimed, humanity cannot choose God. Even if a person wanted to. Which they won’t, because people are naturally hostile to God.
Insulted yet? Because it is. It’s insulting to our sense of our own goodness. Of course we’d choose God, if we wanted Him, and if God would only live up to being good enough for us to accept Him. But who wants a God who talks down to His creatures like this? The immorality of any religion which proposes such a Supreme Being! Continue reading →
It’s been coming back to bite me ever since I became a born-again believer: the unconditional, unexamined appeal to authority. I didn’t become a Christian out of an emotional appeal to blindly “trust Jesus”; quite the opposite, I became a Christian in spite of a lifetime diet of skepticism, fighting the whole way to the moment of decision, making that choice in the full awareness that it was the one functional solution presented to my problem of irreparable sin.
Scrap the Frivolity
Ironically, just before I became a Christian, I reached a minor watershed where I’d decided it was time to stop playing silly games and dabbling with frivolous, gossamery notions of a spiritual realm; if I were to incorporate anything of the world religions into my lifestyle, it would be non-theistic elements of pragmatic human value. After all, one can respect tradition where it has value, without swallowing a whole camel.
But I digress. This is not a conversion story or even a journey story; this is a story of the horrors inflicted on a stolid little church by a rough-edged, cynical new convert from a family of highly educated, critical-thinking atheists and hippie agnostics. Continue reading →
Atheists often say that they can truly live a happy, fulfilling life. Yet this is a lie, a deception which damns millions of souls to darkness…
Simply put, atheism destroys the possibility of personal identity, choice, and objective and subjective meaning.
Atheism inescapably leads to naturalism, and from naturalism follows atheism’s great skeleton which its followers try to keep hidden; determinism.
Determinism is inescapable if one is a naturalist, as all that exists is material and has come about by purely natural processes.
This means then, that the mind of man, our greatest treasure, is reducible to material bound by physical laws; namely, our thoughts, feelings, and actions are reducible to reactions of chemicals in the brain.
Few people realize, then, that this destroys all that makes us human.