Stories I’ve Found, 10/26/2012

Interesting stories I’ve found lately:

Dietrich Bonhoffer has profound words on The Nature of Leadership.  Although Bonhoffer was thinking of Hitler when he offered these thoughts, they are relevant to anyone in authority today. True humility is in short supply these days, particularly from those who would lead us now.

Peter Enns’ 10 Reasons I Don’t Give Up on Fundamentalists  is not only a charitable exercise, but principles we could all use with those we disagree with.

Leah Libresco offers some pertinent thoughts on the debate whether objective morality exists.  I would imagine most of you don’t have problems with this concept of objective morality, but many in the wider world do, and Leah presents some excellent wisdom in favor of the proposition. Although I think the verb “to be” and its conjugations have a mystical quality I’m loath to get rid of, so I guess I’m not going to venture into English Prime very often.

Those who know me will know I’ve pondered The Unbearable Badness of Ayn Rand  here before. This author pulls apart the issues with her storytelling, or lack of talent at storytelling, with profound accuracy. Why English teachers inflict this awful literature on their classes I’ll never know, and I think C.S.Lewis was right in his complaint in The Abolition of Man when he criticized the English primers of his day doing bad philosophy in the name of teaching good grammar. Today we hardly have either good philosophy or good grammar, not to mention good literature.

Leah does it again. Her article on use of language in arguing for or against the existence if God has some very valuable insights that I’ve thought were true for a while. Almost everyone these days seems to argue with an image of their adversary, to point it’s become a Straw Man universe, and we do get upset when people don’t believe what we think they should.

I would like to disagree with her noodling that Atheists and Modern Christians have a more common frame of reference than either is to Catholicism or Orthodoxy. My reading of Dawkins, Hitchens, and other New Atheists lead me to believe their mindset has more in common with Fundamentalist Christians than anyone else. Both work from prejudice rather than objectivity in presenting data, have no respect for other points of view, assume any properly informed person will automatically agree with them, are rigid in their convictions, and have little or no self awareness or self criticism. Both tend to leap to conclusions based on their orientations and stop their inquiry at that point. Both compromise core values of their faith, science in the case of atheists and Scripture in the case of Christian Fundamentalists, that don’t work with their conclusions. There are portions of Modern Christianity that are close to atheism, however those tend to be liberal Christians and not Fundamentalists.
The value of the column is illustrating a point about the New Atheists I see frequently: they tend to assume all Christians are Fundamentalists, and their destruction of them is the destruction of all religions.  They surely like to debate the Fundamentalists rather than more intellectual believers.  I’ve found Joahn F. Haught’s book God and the New Atheism ISBN 978-0-664-23304-4 most helpful in understanding these ideas.

For those of you searching for an esoteric time waster, I offer you the Nietszche Family Circus   It’s cartoons from the Family Circus with their original text removed and a quote from Friedrich Nietszche inserted at random.  Some of the juxtapositions are very funny, and occasionally Fred gets off a good line.


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