Sunday, December 11, 2011
Andrew Sullivan on Tim Tebow and Christianism:


That a really good quarterback (or so I’m told) is also a devout evangelical Christian should concern no one, it seems to me. That he often displays his faith by kneeling in the middle of games strikes me as banal given the end-zone shenanigans that also go on. But it’s worth noting that for Christians, it should be a problem. Prayer is not supposed to be a public event, designed to display your holiness in front of the maximum number of people.

Indeed, I couldn’t agree more — prayer is almost certainly a private activity, that ought to be confined to the home, or to a forum such as the church where those about you are of a like-minded disposition. The world would be a much calmer and restful place, if followers of the Nazarene didn’t take Matthew 28:19 (Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost) so literally.
My principal gripe with Tebow in particular relates more to his denigration and trivialisation of prayer, as it were. Even if there was any sort of omnipresent, omnipotent being, I highly doubt that he would care enough about the Broncos to interfere in games of American football in Tebow’s favour. In fact, Tebow is doing a kind of disservice to his own abilities as a quarterback, attributing any talent he evidently worked hard to nurture to a being who hears him not and cares little for him.

Andrew Sullivan on Tim Tebow and Christianism:

That a really good quarterback (or so I’m told) is also a devout evangelical Christian should concern no one, it seems to me. That he often displays his faith by kneeling in the middle of games strikes me as banal given the end-zone shenanigans that also go on. But it’s worth noting that for Christians, it should be a problem. Prayer is not supposed to be a public event, designed to display your holiness in front of the maximum number of people.

Indeed, I couldn’t agree more — prayer is almost certainly a private activity, that ought to be confined to the home, or to a forum such as the church where those about you are of a like-minded disposition. The world would be a much calmer and restful place, if followers of the Nazarene didn’t take Matthew 28:19 (Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost) so literally.

My principal gripe with Tebow in particular relates more to his denigration and trivialisation of prayer, as it were. Even if there was any sort of omnipresent, omnipotent being, I highly doubt that he would care enough about the Broncos to interfere in games of American football in Tebow’s favour. In fact, Tebow is doing a kind of disservice to his own abilities as a quarterback, attributing any talent he evidently worked hard to nurture to a being who hears him not and cares little for him.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Apparently it is fine to combine open bigotry with deceit in political advertisements. Who knew?!

In his latest Iowa ad, designed to appeal to the very same evangelical Christians who elevated Mick Huckabee in first place in 2008, Rick Perry goes after President Obama for his “war on religion”. He states:

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, but you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school. As President, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion. And I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage. Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again.

In a way, the script speaks for itself, so there’s little need to tear it limb from limb like a beast. All I’d say is that this ad is very telling, not only about Rick Perry’s personal beliefs, but also about the state of his campaign. If Perry was still a frontrunner, he wouldn’t need to go slumming like this. He’s walking dead.

(Source: youtube.com)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Christopher Hitchens accepting the Richard Dawkins Award at the Texas Freethought Convention in Houston 2011.

We have the same job that we have always had, to say as thinking people and as humans that there are no final solutions, there is no absolute truth, there is no supreme leader, there is no totalitarian solution that says if you will just give up your freedom of inquiry, if you will simply abandon your critical faculties, a world of idiotic bliss will be yours.

(Source: newstatesman.com)

Thursday, July 28, 2011 Sunday, December 12, 2010 Friday, October 15, 2010

Do you see what mankind sees?

God has spoken to me clearly and guided my hand each step of the rescue. He wanted the miners to be rescued and I am His instrument.” - - Pastor Carlos Parra Diaz.

I believe this was a test. I believe God does test people.” - - Mario Sepulveda.

Popular interest the world over has been captured by the sixty-nine day tale, of the captivity and rescue from the ‘bowels of the earth’ of thirty-three Chilean miners. The singularity of cross-border news coverage – from the BBC to CNN and onto Al Jazeera and the rest – was a sight unseen since the fall of Saddam Hussein, or the darkest hours of September 11 2001.

The blanket coverage has sounded a distinctly joyous note, highlighting the individual and collective resolve of the miners, and the ingenuity and dexterity of the team of engineers who worked around the clock to free them. The President too – who for his part has wallowed in the glory of the moment, milking it until the udders run dry – has come out of this whole affair rather well.

Casting an ominous shadow in the background though, are the clerical voices seeking to diminish the achievements of man and retelling the heroic story as a parable and an act of God. “What matters is that God is acting through human ingenuity to rescue these men,” the Catholic Bishop Quintana told reporters, his temporary flock.  Riving, hissing and spitting venom, they are looking to poison everything, resorting to outrageous mendacity to stand in the footlights, if for only a moment.

The saddest aspect their part of this tale is the influence they clearly had over the miners. The first to surface and be reunited with the sun and the sky said that he believed that this was a ‘test’. Such a statement, as sad as it is to hear coming from the mouth of a fellow mammal, speaks more to the pastors and bishops who decamped around the mine, whispering nothings into the ears of a captured, desperate and impressionable audience. A man who can tell another that an all-powerful and supposedly all-loving entity imprisoned you hundreds of feet below the surface, for three months, as a test of faith!, is someone of the lowest moral character.

Such a deed coming from a clergyman ought not to come as a surprise anyway, if one is to glance at the holy texts they inherit their scruples from. The God of the Bible – imbibed as He is with human characteristics having been created by man four-thousand years ago, and then developed by the followers of the Nazarene some time after his supposed death by thieving traits from the deities of Greece and Rome – is as Gore Vidal notes in Julian not just “jealous, as the Jews say, but evil”.

The sort of test that Mario Sepulveda hinted at was as merciless as the suffering of Job in the Old Testament, whose story has come to embody in the eyes of Christians giving up anything for the love of the Lord. But for the free-thinking, rational and nonreligious beings of this world, his misery occurred at the hand of a vengeful, petty and unforgiving god.

God allowed Satan to take everything from Job; “all that he hath is in thy power.” God permitted the murder of his sons, and slaughter of his livestock and menservants; He plagued him with sore boils “from the sole of his foot unto his crown”. Job was tormented and heavy with sorrow, and questioned the very nature of God (this chapter is better portrayed lyrically by Joni Mitchell than in any pious book of nonsense). “Do you have eyes?” he screamed to the vacant heavens, “do you see what mankind sees? Why have you soured and curdled me? Oh you tireless watcher! What have I done to you? That you make everything I dread and everything I fear come true?”

In order to have his life returned to him, he first has to subjugate himself to God. “Behold, I am vile,” he repents, going back to our second-rate biblical source, “what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.” It is an acknowledgement that this creator, or more accurately destroyer, is the omnipotent one – “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding?” – and that man must always be secondary, deferential to God. It is a sickening thought that the sort of world these priests and bishops would have us living in would be akin to a totalitarian state, where knowledge is always in the hands of the great leader.                                       

So what should be one of the truly joyous stories of human resolve and ingenuity is being debased by a huddle of sinister holy men. By labelling it a miracle and introducing the irrational, as even one topographer dared to do, the achievements of man are doing diminished, as the event is deemed unexplainable. Moreover calling their suffering a test is wicked and cruel, and renders their existence meaningless outside of the realm of this ruthless god.

See this event for what is it – a remarkable triumph for mankind, as individuals and as a collective, in the face of natural disaster. Leave your god out of it.

All biblical quotations come from Authorised King James Version of The Bible, as published by Oxford World’s Classics (Oxford, 2008).