Atheism: Just another religion?

Okay, so as Christian I am supposed to be offended or alarmed by this atheist manifesto masquerading as a feature in Wired Magazine. Ho Hum.

Does it ever occur to atheists that some intelligent mature Christians have outgrown the “Wise Old Magic Man In The Sky” God too?

Besides, these new activist atheists are just offering us more religious intolorance:

“We discuss what it might look like, this world without God. “There would be a religion of reason,” Harris says. “We would have realized the rational means to maximize human happiness. We may all agree that we want to have a Sabbath that we take really seriously — a lot more seriously than most religious people take it. But it would be a rational decision, and it would not be just because it’s in the Bible. We would be able to invoke the power of poetry and ritual and silent contemplation and all the variables of happiness so that we could exploit them. Call it prayer, but we would have prayer without bullshit.”

A “religion of reason” indeed. They would have us worship our own faculties of reason. Deify the Scientific Method. So it’s not so much about freedom from religion as it is more of the same “my religion is better than yours” effluvia we see every day. Not much enlightenment from folks who think they’re more enlightened than most of the population.

I don’t care how righteous your cause, how noble your goal, if your efforts come from that “I’m right and you’re wrong” place within you, you are just another extremist.

There is a lot we Christians have in common with (at least some) atheists. But that’s another post.

Becoming "Handy"

I came across this great article which articulates a spiritual storm front that has been gathering up inside me over the last few weeks. At mid life I have become a pretty decent knowledge worker. I am the product of an education system that has groomed me to succeed in the cube farms of the world and, praise God, I have done pretty well in that environment. At least good enough to support my family pretty well.

But lately I have been lamenting the fact that I have missed out somehow on the opportunity for balance — knowing the satisfaction of being able to accomplish things with my mind and my hands together. Auto parts stores feel like foreign lands to me. Tools and harware mock me from the shelves of the Home Depot. I solve home repair problems with my checkbook.

Problem is that I equate the opportunity cost of the time it would take me to learn how to do something handy with the time it would take me to work at what I know to earn enough to pay somebody to do that same thing for me. The comparison does not make financial sense.

But what I don’t factor in is the value of seeing the effects of my work in the world instead of in conceptual space. The satisfaction of a result I can see. The fruits of my labors. There is spiritual value to be found in that.

And as I round the corner past middle age, I assess what frontiers still lie ahead of me. The world of skills and trades lie unexplored on the map of my life, kind of like Darkest Africa or the Orient to Victorian Era factory worker. As I drive my leaky car around and walk past small holes in my sheet rock or sticking doors I wonder if I will indeed go through the rest of my life feeling helpless in the face of such practicalities.

So here’s my question — how does a forty-something wannabe renassance man find basic instruction in the trades? Are there classes for this kind of thing — general handiness? Or do I teach myself and inflict my education on my own household? Anyone know of a really good book that summarizes the world of “handiness?”

More MS Paint Play

playing around in paint using seredipity

I don’t really do art. I can’t paint. I just think up processes for producing images that mate repetition of a theme with elements that leave room for serendipity and my own mood. The hardest part is knowing where to stop.

Just like making art from trash, I am drawn to making art with MS Paint because it is so overlooked and ubiquitous. It’s a challenge to me to try to make something interesting or, dare I say, beautiful from something mundane.

Breakfast Paste

I don’t know if this is good enough to patent, but I like it for breakfast a few days a week. I’ve been losing some weight lately as a result of our family’s attempt to change the way we eat long-term. Weight loss is not so much the goal as total paradigm shift.

Part of the paradigm shift is breakfast. Smaller portions, more protein, more fiber and whole grains. And below is the recipe that I use to help me actually enjoy the high-fiber cereals that are supposed to be good for me.

3 tbs peanut butter (preferrably natural)
1 tbs honey (prefer local)
1 tbs Grape Nuts
2 tsp All Bran (we call it “Fiber Worms”)
Optional: raisins, dried cranberries, dash of cinnamon

Mix peanut butter and honey together with a spoon in a small bowl. Helps to heat the peanut butter up for 15 seconds in the microwave first. Adjust peanut butter and honey mixture to desired viscosity. Mix in remaining ingredients.

Gotta have milk or coffee with this. Sticks to the roof of your mouth. Fills you up until lunch.

Morning Mezuzah

I read Leonard Sweet’s book Soul Salsa years ago. I just thought of him today as I realized that my morning ritual has become a “mezuzah moment.” In his book, Sweet urged me to “mezuzah my universe” by sacralizing the ordinary objects in my life, giving them sacred meaning.

I had forgotten about doing it until I started doing it. Each morning after I get dressed, I…

Put my wedding ring on intentionally, “putting on” my role in my family. Then I
Put on my ACTS bracelet, the only other piece of religious jewelry (if you can call it that) I wear, “putting on” my role in the community. Then I
Put my keys in my pocket, accepting anew my responsibilities. And last I
Put my wallet in my pocket, thanking God for the gifts he has given me that enable me to care for others.

I know some day it will be Otherwise. But for this moment I accept and am grateful for where I am.

Poem: A path on which to travel

‘Untitled’

When the heart
Is cut or cracked or broken
Do not clutch it
Let the wound lie open
Let the wind
From the good old sea blow in
To bathe the wound with salt

Let a stray dog lick it
Let a bird lean in the hole and sing
A simple song like a tiny bell
And let it ring
Let it go. Let it out.
Let it all unravel.
Let it free and it can be
A path on which to travel.

— Michael Leunig