Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Earworm



Kongos, Come With Me Now

Not entirely sure if the video is supposed to have any deeper meaning, but the song is more than worth the price of admission.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Links

In this month's edition (and I do seem to only be posting monthly so far this year), the theme is balance.

Maintaining balance and speaking in nuanced terms is a difficult thing to do in the highly polarized atmosphere that we currently find ourselves in.  Even at our best it can be challenging to avoid unconsciously slipping into a more adversarial tone.  At least, I've found that to be the case for myself, and I've seen it happen to others as well.

Link 1: Justin Lee is an individual who has a good track record of disagreeing graciously and maintaining a balanced perspective.  As such, it gives his words more weight when he writes an exhortation to conservative Christians like this one.  Only God knows how many will actually listen, but given Justin's reputation as a bridge builder he's in a better position than most to get through to those who genuinely do care.

Link 2: I also appreciate Rob Tisinai, who very ably tears apart anti-gay myths while still maintaining a nuanced perspective, as well as a strong respect for free speech and engaging with opposing viewpoints.

Link 3: Brian McLaren is another gracious voice who often takes a lot of heat for swimming against the tide of evangelical opinion.  In this piece he answers one of his critics.

Link 4: Being a fan of astronomy and science in general, I watched the premiere of the new Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson last weekend.  The first episode was a bit basic, but the show has potential as a teaching tool for young learners and for anyone else seeking to broaden their understanding of the universe we live in.

That said, the first episode also provided an example of how to fail at maintaining balance.  As Tobias Haller points out, Tyson's use of Giordano Bruno as an example of the dangers of placing dogma ahead of evidence was a bit misguided.  Bruno, as Tyson acknowledges, was not a scientist, and his belief that the Earth wasn't the center of the universe (while ultimately proven correct) was neither the product of scientific reasoning nor the primary reason he was executed for heresy.  And while the show half-heartedly acknowledged those facts, its emphasis on Bruno's martyrdom was nonetheless misleading.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Call For Help

As anyone who follows world news is undoubtedly aware, violence against LGBT people has been increasing in numerous countries across Africa, and several countries have made their already draconian anti-gay laws even harsher (most notably Nigeria and now Uganda). Unfortunately, political action has proven to be counterproductive in some cases; pressure applied by Western governments and activists has only caused the countries in question to dig their heels in and push back even harder.  So while silence is never an option, clearly new approaches are called for.

Activist Melanie Nathan (a native of South Africa) is trying something different: she has set up a Rescue Fund to Help LGBT People Escape Africa.  Click on the link for more details and/or to contribute.

Hopefully it will someday be possible to begin a sober and peaceful dialogue on human rights issues in these countries (and the many other parts of the world that are still hostile territory for sexual minorities), but right now it looks like that day is too far off to help the many people whose lives are currently in danger.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Links

Yes, it's been a while.  Here are a few items of interest that have come through my news reader in recent weeks...

-Rachel Held Evans puts the phrase "The Bible clearly teaches" into some much-needed perspective.

-David Brin offers a perspective on our current political situation that I find compelling.  Granted, everyone thinks their political viewpoint is the best one, but he makes some good points.

-John Shore points out the hypocrisy that biblical literalists commonly display when they voice their condemnations of homosexuality.

-And in this pair of posts, we see how evangelism conducted by those (theists and non-theists alike) with a tribalistic 'us vs. them' mentality fails to be persuasive or winsome.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Happy 2014

And in the spirit of things, here's a New Year's message from author David Brin, who articulates some things that have been rattling around in my head for a while. Among them, this:
Indeed, the lesson must be that a benign Creator -- if one exists -- clearly chose ambiguity and distance for some reason. Not as a cruel and infantile “test of faith,” but as a very clear sermon that we are supposed to stand up and look around, and figure things out for ourselves.
Anathema to those who demand nothing less than absolute certainty, perhaps - but something that the rest of us can embrace, and strive to live up to.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

More Links

Some more interesting stuff for your week...

1. This Denver Post editorial clarifies why private businesses can't be allowed the right to turn away customers solely on the basis of personal prejudice.  It also points out the distinction between that and freedom of speech exceptions, which answers my own concerns about cases like this.

2. Although I was never homeschooled myself, I knew a fair amount about the homeschool movement back in the 90s when evangelical groups were pushing hard for it.  Thus, it's very interesting to get this update on the results of that grand experiment.  Granted, there are many homeschooled children whose experiences are far more positive than these, and there are cases in which home schooling genuinely is the best option for a kid, but we now have a generation of young adults that can attest that separatism and indoctrination are never good reasons...

3. ThinkProgress points out five ways in which the world is becoming a better place.  In the midst of all the reasons we have to worry for the future (destruction of the environment, terrorism, the decline of the American middle class, etc.), it's helpful to be reminded that all is not bleak.

4. From the "this is cool" department, a collection of maps that will help to clarify the way you see the world.

5. Finally, a plug for an upcoming project that I'm personally excited about: a live-action version of the long-running comic Knights of the Dinner Table...

Friday, December 06, 2013

Links

A few interesting articles to round out your week with:

1. First, this article on a side of C.S. Lewis that most people have never been aware of.  Some people want to keep their spiritual heroes on pedestals; personally, I like him more now that I know a little more about his human side.

2. Rob Bell on how to read the Bible.  It comes to life in a myriad of ways as soon as we stop trying to read it like an instruction manual.

3. Building on this piece from John Shore, perhaps the billboard Times Square really needs this Christmas is one that says Don't Feed the Fundies (of any stripe).