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One could wish that this scripture from Genesis 1:28 (KJV) could be interepted differently than it often is:People get together each week in some reclaimed space or free space in their neighborhood. There is no pastor. There is some kind of “Admin” or some similar open source analogue. Each week, the liturgy (literally, “the work of the people”), the readings, the music, the things that are shared and said, the prayers…each week these emerge from whatever is brought by the gathered. Some people bring things intentionally, things they’ve written beforehand or worked on for a while. Other people write poems and prayers or make art or music that is shared in response to what’s been going on in real time. The music is done by whoever brings instruments. Communion is shared every week, and the elements are whatever people bring (out of respect for the recovery community, maybe we nix alcohol). You don’t come expecting to be talked to but to converse. You don’t come to hear one or two people’s opinions but to build an offering. You come to hang out and live.
It seems that the age of subduing and dominating the earth expired long ago. Of course, the authors of the Books of Moses could not have conceived of a spherical, fragile planet teeming with seven billion human beings in a mere 3,500 years. Does the church have the courage to admit that old ideas have passed away, and it's time to make all things new?Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
The last thing America needs is a war of attrition between two mutually exclusive, absolute systems of belief. Yet this is precisely what the new atheists appear to crave. The task for the rest of us--committed to neither dogmatic faith nor dogmatic doubt--is to make certain that combatants on both sides of the theological divide fail to get their destructive way.Read the entire article
Then there's Christopher Hitchens, whom I've known over the years and like just as much. Hitchens, alas, seems to be letting his atheism get to him. First, the poor man is never seen without a drink. ... you'll see that Hitchens reaches for his glass with the same alacrity that fundamentalists reach for the Bible.This is an unwarranted ad hominum attack. While it may be true that Hitchens is never seen to be far from his glass, what is the point? Is this the worst he can say of Hitchens character, that he may in fact have a substance abuse issue? I laughed out loud at the irony of his self-betraying reference to the fundamentalist needing his bible in the same way that an alcoholic needs his drink. But wait - there's more:
Many libertarians are basically conservatives who are either gay or druggies or people who generally find the conservative moral agenda too restrictive. So they flee from the conservative to the libertarian camp where much wider parameters of personal behavior are embraced. To the sensible idea of political and economic freedom many libertarians add the more controversial principle of moral freedom, the freedom to live however you want as long as you don't harm others. Hitchens, needless to say, is at home in this group.In truth, many libertarians are religious, opposed to substance abuse, accepting of people without regard to sexual orientation, and committed to an ethical lifestyle, the conservative "moral agenda" notwithstanding. Libertarianism, as a political philosophy, prizes individual liberty and personal sovereignty over ones own affairs. This principle is deemed violated if any person or institution (including a government) initiates force against said liberty or exercise thereof. Unfortunately, the religious right (whom D'Souze blithely names as "conservatives") has freely initiated force against personal liberty by promotion of the so-named "moral agenda". In fact, it could be said that libertarians have their own moral agenda, one not based on personal private choices, but rather on those moral issues which threaten the well-being and very existence of mankind. In this sense, Christ himself was very much a libertarian, willing to immerse himself in a culture that the religious right of his day would readily name "immoral" for the cause of promoting a higher moral agenda:
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,The third point made by D'Souza is to object to Hitchens' reading at a Christmas Party of a satirical lyric by Tom Lehrer:
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners. (Isaiah 61:1)
Hitchens' contribution to the party was to read an irreverent Christmas ditty by the lyricist Tom Lehrer. Remember Lehrer? He's a bit of a relic, like the Monty Python and the Rocky Horror movies. When I was eighteen and a freshman at Dartmouth I found Lehrer and Monty Python very sophisticated and amusing. Most of us, however, outgrow the juvenile sense of humor that they represent.In order that no one miss the point of Lehrer's lyric, here it is:
Christmas time is here, by golly,It's worth noting that Tom Lehrer's "Christmas Carol" (quoted eyes-closed by a clearly inebriated Hitchens)is a biting commentary on a commercialized christmas holiday, and makes no (repeat, zero) attacks on Christ or Christianity. What it does attack is the consumerist, duplicitous holiday that the American Christmas has become. This is the fodder for Hitchens' cynical attack, and a point of view shared by many people of faith. Kudos to Hitchens for once again speaking the truth. Mysterious ways, indeed.
Disapproval would be folly,
Deck the halls with hunks of holly,
Fill the cup and don't say when.
Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens,
Mix the punch, drag out the dickens,
Even though the prospect sickens,
Brother, here we go again.
On christmas day you cant get sore,
Your fellow man you must adore,
Theres time to rob him all the more
The other three hundred and sixty-four.
Relations, sparing no expensell
Send some useless old utensil,
Or a matching pen and pencil.
Just the thing I need! how nice!
It doesnt matter how sincere it
Is, nor how heartfelt the spirit,
Sentiment will not endear it,
Whats important is the price.
Hark the herald tribune sings,
Advertising wondrous things.
God rest ye merry, merchants,
May you make the yuletide pay.
Angels we have heard on high
Tell us to go out and buy!
So let the raucous sleigh bells jingle,
Hail our dear old friend kris kringle,
Driving his reindeer across the sky.
Dont stand underneath when they fly by.
(T)he magisterium of science covers the empirical realm: what the Universe is made of (fact) and why does it work in this way (theory). The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for example, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty).This sounds simple enough, but seems insufficient to explain the recent escalation of rhetoric in America over science and religion, theism and atheism, creation and evolution, and church and state. The controversy widens each day as presidential candidates jab each other over doctrinal tenets, the House passes legislation "Protecting" Christmas, and atheist authors top the 2007 best sellers lists. Clearly, if people accepted the NOMA concept, the conflict wouldn't exist to the degree that it does. Among the evangelical christian circles that I have been a part of, NOMA has been only partially embraced. More often, Christians seeking to make a case for their faith will subject it to the purely modern rigors of scientific inquiry, utilizing traditional apologetics to "explain" their doctrines or beliefs. In the face of arguments set forth by atheist rationalists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, and in light of modern scientific knowledge and scholarship, traditional apologetic arguments (such as those posited by Lee Strobel and even C.S. Lewis), appear impotent.
"From the Christian point of view, the truth about Christianity cannot be found in modern-styled objectivity. Not only does the essence of Christianity concern the desperate need of humans and God’s gracious (and personal) response to our need, but it also starts with the assumption that human being (including human reason) is unable to save itself. Christian truth presumes to master us, rather than to be mastered by us. In this case, whenever I try to establish the fundamental reasonability of Christianity in modern terms I remove its fundamental “offense” to reason and transform Christianity into something domestic, with nothing other than a cognitive claim on my life. Christianity, however, is a way of being, or what Kierkegaard calls an “actuality”—a way of living with and before God—and not just a cognitive event involving intellectual assent to a set of propositions."I'd be interested in hearing what both religious and secular folks have to add to this conversation.