Friday, July 18, 2014

Thought for the Day

My experience of atheists is that, those I have met and talked to, do not really deny the existence of God (or any god or gods) due to lack of evidence. Underlying and causing their atheism is (I detect) a resistance to moral accountability. They do not want to believe that they are or will be judged because they want to live as they want to live without judgment other than their own.

I have trouble taking atheism seriously. It is so clearly a product of modernity and (in my view) so clearly goes against the grain of everything we humans believe in (e.g., objective morality that transcends tribe, culture and custom) that I find it almost amusing—except that it can and often does have extremely pernicious consequences.

~ Roger E. Olson
(Hat tip: Amorality of Atheism Facebook group)

Snort...

Pearls Before Swine Comic Strip on GoComics.com

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Quote of the Day

"I have always thought that just as Mother, when baking bread, leaves a little of the dough over in order that the children may make funny little men with raisins for tummy buttons and put them into ovens and bake them alongside the bread or the cake for the day, so possibly on the day of creation a little of the Divine creative power was left in reserve for the lesser cherubim and seraphim to use and they were allowed to make funny little objects like the Abominable Snowman."

~The Earl of Halsbury

Yeah...that's about right.

Christianity and Baseball

There was a very odd editorial piece on Foxnews (why it was not on Foxsports, I don't know) about Baseball. It appears to have been written by "chief economist at the Heritage Foundation." So, in other words, he's a politico. Now, I know Foxnews gets a bad rap over being biased and too conservative, but in Foxnews' defense, I do not find it any more biased or brain dead to the Right that, say, CNN or MSNBC is to the Political Left, but that is neither here nor there. (Any comments simply bashing Foxnews will be deleted.) My point for this blog post is to discuss the editorial at hand and its argument.

I generally do not tend to read editorials on news websites, but the fact that it had to do with Baseball caught my attention. Thoughtful sports writing of any type is hard to come by, particularly on the internet. I believe this article reinforces that opinion. As an economist, I am curious as to how he comes to the conclusion that "Baseball is dying. The trend is unmistakable and undeniable." He gives no factual evidence to support that bald assertion. Instead, the author gives only anecdotal personal evidence about being about to remember stats from the 1960s and not currently and that there are many ball fields across the country with weeds growing in them. Teams being primarily stocked by Hispanic and Latino players seems to be a problem, though again, why exactly remains a mystery in his argument. Finally, he goes on to offer six suggestions to save baseball because...wait for it...baseball has to change or die.

I think that last change or die bit is what really got me going. I hear this all the time in the Church, particularly in my former occupation long, long ago in a denomination far, far away. In fact, I believe that was a major theme (and book subtitle if I recall) of a heretical former bishop of Newark. Ironically, that Bishop in terms of productivity shrunk his diocese by an exponential percentage during his tenure because he threw tradition under the bus and ended up creating a faith that was certainly not worth dying for. (Can you name a bona fide Liberal Protestant martyr? I can't.) My point being simply uprooting what is good in a tradition to change for the sake of change does not necessarily mean you are going to become popular. The Episcopal church is an example of just the opposite: they have embraced every major theological change in the last 50 years to synchronize and "be relevant" to modern culture, and the result? The Episcopal church does not even compose one half of one percent of the American population and is shrinking fast. Changing for the sake of change does not guarantee you will grow. Sometimes change signals to the greater population that you are desperate, and it actually accelerates your irrelevance. But, back to baseball...

I think in some ways, baseball and modern Christianity in America have a lot in common. They once dominated. They once were all most people knew and had little competition in their prospective arenas. They were once simply what people did culturally, whether the people actually liked or believed it in a meaningful way or not. They were once completely respected by culture. They once were largely segregated, but even in segregation, it was what everybody did.

Perhaps, most of all, baseball and Christianity have a similar philosophy in terms of time and economy. I posted a quote a few weeks ago that speaks a bit to this. Christianity is not governed by a clock. God moves in his own good time, and when the correct number of outs is finally played, only then will Jesus return and only then will God bring back all things unto Himself. God is eternal, meaning that he is apart from time. Christianity believes that God is ultimately the creator of all things, and that God will provide. This is the beauty of the creation story: out of chaos, God creates order. All those scary animals and vast oceans? Yeah, God created those too.

Simply put, dumbing things down or making things hip, whether in Christianity or baseball, is never the answer. If you unmoor a thing from what makes a thing great, then you end up with a cheapened product no one wants. Christianity cannot compete with the glitter of 'whatever feels good, do it' culture, nor can it compete with self-centered, it is all about me, right here, right now attention spans of the idiocracy, and neither can baseball for that matter. This philosophy may shrink the membership, but the membership that remains will be that much more passionate and focused.

That is a much better place to be in, even it means we are no longer have a monopoly on power.

This is what Dumb Jock looks like...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Brilliant

"The gift of speech was also given to us that we might understand one another, not through instinct, like the dumb animals, but through intellect. Thus we verbally [or on the internet/blogs?] express our ideas, which are abundantly and clearly opened to us by our God-enlightened mind, the source of thought and word, in order that we might conduct intelligent, mutual, brotherly conversation on the aim of daily life and its regulation, for mutual edification and benefit, in support and consolation of each other, and the like. It was not given to us that we might talk idly; or judge, slander, and condemn our neighbors, pronouncing judgments on them like unmerciful judges and torturers rather than considering ourselves as their brothers, weak and sinful as they, if not still worse. Thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest, says the Apostle, for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? (Rom. 2:1, 3) He that ... judgeth his brother, says another Apostle, ...judgeth the law; but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge (James 4:11). And what great evil results from empty and idle conversations and gossip! Sometimes one heedlessly spoken word causes a whole storm of unpleasantness and fills the heart of the one referred to with indignation and hatred. So even a word that was not ill-intentioned, one we counted as nothing, can strike a mortal sin, just as a small spark often turns into a great fire burning whole villages. How great a matter a little fire kindleth, says the Apostle James. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things (cf. James 3:5); it is a fire, a world of iniquity:... it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell (James 3:6). The tongue is an untamable evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God and therewith curse we men, which are after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing an d cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be! Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? (James 3:8-11) Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge ... let him show this out of his works, through good conduct, and not by condemning others. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth (i.e., don't consider yourself wise). This is not the wisdom that descends from above, but is earthly ... devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work (cf. James 3:13-16). Behold the harm from all our idle talk and gossip!"

-St. John of Kronstadt

Hat tip: Ad Orientem blog