Thursday, November 29, 2007

Death by hilarity

This site, which is now on my awesome list, pointed me here.

2: Not to be read with a full bladder.

You have been warned.

In other news - seminary looks to be an impending disaster - the theological sword of Damocles. If any of the two people who read this have any advice on ille, I would appreciate hearing it. The good news is that the theological bent of this thing won't be going anywhere. Politics, academics, yes - theology until my dying breath.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Today I won life. Like all good games, you want to keep playing after you "win," and so the game becomes a series of victories, but today was clearly game point to the Good guys in the old tennis match of Humanism versus Christianity. The score stands, as it has for some time, at Humanism - 1,343,789,021, Christianity - ∞ .

I've been working for about a month on energy and economics. It seemed to me that there the problem lies, and that if we could solve the problems of energy and economics - the gathering of energy and the distribution of energy benefits - we could cinch the whole thing up tight! No one is hungry - no one wants - all is available - all is well.

Of course, to put that together, every human being would have to contribute to energy gathering and energy distribution - a sort of communism, if you will. Which happens to require universal participation.

This typically initiates my "gnash" reflex, but for some reason today...I just realized that it isn't going to work. All the effort and expense and Brownian motion of mankind - it's not efficient enough. The goal of humanism, futurism, communism, etc., is a closed system. The perpetual motion machine, perfectly efficient. And all these little "ism"s claim to be a path to a Perpetual Motion Mankind, provided everyone pulls together and puts their back into it.

Ben Bova, in his book Mars, talks about thermodynamics in a lovely homespun way. "You can't win, you can't break even, and you can't get out of the game." And where two or three humans are gathered for any reason, there is disagreement. Which then magnifies into dischord and strife. War. So, all the isms are fundamentally flawed - too much grit in the works, too much friction in the universe.

What we need, then, I reasoned, is something to believe in, a solution, which doesn't require universal human participation. Something that get us through the grinding ill, but doesn't need everyone's signature.

I started off pointing to religions in general - the Barkeep most rightly pointed out that Judaism and Islam may be exempted, the one promising reward only to a chosen people, the other's utopia requiring the religious conquest of the world. But, of the big five, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism all have that vast uncaring about what others do.

In essence, as I told the Barkeep, I needed to remind myself that I was a Christian first and a humanist second. I have a lot of good humanist stuff - I like what we're about. But Christ is the centre. There can be no other path.

So, Sugarbutt! That for your futurism! Let's watch, and see who wins.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

We live in a phenomenal world...

Yeah we do. Yeah we do.

I've been developing the language and the thought about this, ably assisted by the Barkeep and Sugarbutt (my shoulder angel and atheist, respectively), and it's time to take another stab at a theology of the phenomenal.

We live in a physical world. If you fail existentialism and accept some of the more obvious assumptions that we can make about living on earth (everyone else exists, everything we can experience with the senses is, to a greater or lesser extent, real, etc.), then you've got a nice duality of choices about the rest. Deity or not? Created or cosmic accident? Spiritual, inexplicable, mysterious, or methodical, predictable, Newtonian? Chaos and determinism on both sides of the crater, lava below, survival above.

But on either side of that question, and in every flavor of the middle, the world is standing there, staring you in the face, trying to get your attention. Every time I try to come up with an example of this, it sounds so banal, but think for a minute about trees. What? Why on God's/chaos'/Darwin's blue earth should there be life at all? Why should some of it grow tall, and somewhat hard? Leaves, bark, what's that all about? Burn it or build a bungalow, wood is bizarre.

And it's all like that! Bugs, electricity, humans (especially humans), we're all wired to simultaneously accept all this stuff that's in our faces on a daily basis, because it's always been there, but it's weird! It's weird just by being there, and whether it was adapted to fit us, or we to fit it, we live in a world to which we're ideally suited. The phenomena of our material universe, of which we are admittedly one of the strangest instances of the class, cry out to be acknowledged. This is smelling the roses on speed - take a moment and wonder that there are roses at all!

This is just a part of a larger idea - I'm still working on the unifying theme, but trust me when I say that levelling the accusation at the universe that it should be other than it is isn't helpful - the universe we have is a wonder, full of tragedy, triumph, and beauty. And it will be so, whatever the fate of mankind may be.