What Art Might Tell Us, If Only We’d Listen

Each semester, I begin my World Music classes with a brief, general orientation that includes basic concepts and strategies for understanding the unfamiliar-sounding music my students are going to be hearing for the ensuing four months. One of the things I introduce right away is a taxonomic scheme for thinking critically about any artwork in any of the arts (the arts being our most-nearly infallible guide to the worldviews of all cultures – including, of course, our own). For music, the most important categories within that scheme are formalism, expressionism, and instrumentality. Other critiques are of course possible: much art invites and yields very well to a realistic critique for instance, or a feminist critique, or a Marxist one, etc. But for purposes of most of the music one is likely to hear, my proffered three-item taxonomy is sufficient to make headway.
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GOD and Modern Warfare

© Religion Erased

I was walking past a youngster the other day, his eyes fixed to the television. Sometimes I wonder what we let our youngest generations watch. What I saw unfolding was graphic, to say the least.

 

It was a man, soaked from head to toe in blood, beaten whilst people watched and laughed. Slowly, he was tortured to death in front of those that both loved and loathed him.

I said, ‘Kid, please stop watching the crucifixion of Jesus. Go play Grand Theft Auto or something.’

 

We use a very warped, biased logic when determining what is appropriate viewing for a child. We go to church to hear stories of murder and be threatened with an eternal lifetime of pain, no questions asked. The first image we see is this one, placed strategically for immediate acknowledgement and maximum effect.
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The Afterlife

© The Unassuming Atheist

“Life is a short warm moment. Death is a long cold rest.” These are lyrics from a favorite Pink Floyd song of mine called “Free Four” from the album Obscured by Clouds. OBC was the album before Dark Side of The Moon and provided the fertile ground that would blossom into one of the best-selling recordings of all time. Many of Roger Water’s lyrics focused on death. “Free Four” is about what one thinks about on their deathbed. “You shuffle in gloom of the sick room…and talk to yourself as you die.”

 

Pretty profound stuff. However, I’m not writing an article about Pink Floyd. I just wanted to point out a portion of the first line that I quoted. …”Death is a long cold rest.” Is that what death really is? A dirt nap, so to speak?

 

Without attempting (poorly) to give a history lesson, I think we all know that mankind has always had a fascination with death. It is the Great Mystery, isn’t it? Look at the incredible detail found in the burial tombs of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs. One ancient Asian emperor had an entire terracotta army buried with him to command in the afterlife. Look it up, it’ll blow your mind.

 

There are many examples throughout history of man trying to explain the unexplainable. As we moved through the ages and learned some things along the way, the answers to these mysteries revealed themselves. The earth is flat, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox created the Grand Canyon…you know, stuff like that. Those that believed the myths of their point in time went kicking and screaming when science, reason, or whatever, provided the explanation that solved the mystery. Look what is happening right now in our lifetime with the evolution versus creationism debate. Kicking and screaming.
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The Passing of the Most Human Alien: Tribute to Leonard Nimoy

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“A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP”

 

The death of Leonard Nimoy did not go unnoticed, as any even passing perusal of social media would have noted Friday and through the weekend. The above quote, his last tweet, could not be surpassed in encapsulating his life, were thousands more words added on. Like any memory, what Nimoy achieved says as much about those he touched as the man who lived.

 

Star Trek, both in television and in film, has in its many forms, sparked the imagination and wonder of countless people. That flame lit so many fires of the human spirit with the pursuit of an unabashed narrative of scientific discovery and the hopeful future of a humanity dedicated to peaceful exploration. Any violence, certainly at times heavy-handed, seemed always to remind us that the search for truth and the awe of discovery is always tempered by the acknowledged destruction of preconceived notions, not least of which concern ourselves as individuals and a species.

 

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If God Falls Like a Tree In the Forest and No One Hears, Does God Exist?

At the beginning of every semester, I tell my students: there is a world of difference between hearing music and listening to it.  Emphatically despite the fact that “hear” and “listen” are often used interchangeably in casual speech, as though they were exact synonyms. In fact, they mean two completely different – although not entirely unrelated – things.

 

I’ve spent a goodly portion of my life thinking about language and trying to understand its expressive range, the better to express myself. I’ve noticed that transitive verbs do not carry the same weight – are not charged with the same energy – as intransitive verbs. Did any of your English teachers ever tell you that? Mine didn’t: I had to discover it for myself.

 

Let me illustrate: We regularly hear music, but we also occasionally listen to music. The transitive verb requires a direct object to complete its meaning; the intransitive verb is complete in itself (hence its greater potency), and the prepositional phrase that follows adds no weight to the verb: it simply brings the verb’s activity to a focus.

 

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The difference in energy between transitive and intransitive verbs is faithfully reflected in our daily experience. Taking the illustrative case I’ve offered above, consider the fact that hearing is an altogether passive experience which might actually be described as a condition, often ignored and therefore mostly registered unconsciously; every animal with ears has pretty much the same experience of hearing, assuming similar auditory capacities. (There are interesting differences, of course: dogs can hear at least an octave higher than humans, and humpback whales and elephants can communicate in wavelengths much longer than those available to us.) The capacity – the sense – known as hearing is our ability to register physical phenomena in a way that’s available only to an exquisitely fine-tuned nervous system, by means of equipment (eardrums, etc.) that can respond to (resonate with) disturbances in some fluid medium such as air or water. The old conundrum, “if a tree falls in a completely unpopulated forest, does it make a sound?” is thus answered: sound is the name we give to that nervous-system registering, that experience of a disturbance in air or water. Where there is no experience, i.e. no experiencer, there is no sound.
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The Atheist Hell House

Fears of war and pestilence.

Fear of loss and failure.

Fear the hate of your enemy.

Fear your god and savior.

Savior? Failure.

What do you fear?

Fear is your god.

 

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Deep and insidious, beneath your consciousness, and just beyond your peripheral vision the horror of sin lies.  The most base human fears, materialized with an agenda, and aimed at the young and vulnerable.  Instincts derived from over a hundred thousand years of life in hominid form and millions of years before to the origin of species, have been carved by nature to protect the self and the genes from destruction.  When weaponized, as proven time and time again, fear truly is: “the mindkiller”.

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[VIDEO] Theists Suffer Massive Losses Over 2014 Atheist Activism

In 2014, as it was in 2013 “atheism was more studied, and better understood, than ever before.” We’ve seen an explosion of media: Podcasts, Web Shows, Blogs, Social Media Groups and Pages, Memes… The World’s first and only TV channel dedicated exclusively to superstition-free programming. “Woo-Free TV” and Atheist TV.

Richard Dawkins Tweets, Neil deGrasse Tyson Tweets,  “Cosmos”, and Dawkins again with Lawrence Krauss “The Unbelievers”. Moving to the the exact opposite, Kirk Cameron’s “Saving Christmas” auspiciously rated Worst Movie on IMDB.

We had 2 major Atheist Books hit the Best Selling List: Barbara’s “Living With a Wild God”, She was Humanist of the Year 98’, still going strong, and Sam Harris’s “Waking Up”. Sam Harris even teamed up with Bill Maher against Ben Affleck for mainstream debate.

Speaking of debates… Sean Carroll and William Lane Craig on the Kalam Cosmological Argument or the more publicized Bill Nye and Ken Hamm Debate?… Popular Christian Website, “Christianity Today” held a poll after the debate: 92% said Bill Nye was more convincing. A debate that needs no poll, Matt Dillahunty vs Sye Ten Bruggencate, in Memphis, TN, organized by significant contributor to the Atheist Community Sarah Morehead, was a critical success.
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Godless Offering E06 Jamila Bey What Makes a Good Interview

This episode of Godless Offering Jamila Bey joins us to talk about what makes a good interview. She also talks about her interview with Henry Rollins and what she would ask Bob Dylan.

Please click like, subscribe, and send you feed back to us so we know if we should keep making more. Below is the links to the full episode.

Full Episode Link:
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Full Episode Description:
Jamila will be talking about the her new PodCast coming out shortly. She will also talk about the politcal climate in America. Finally she will also talk with us about her activism within the atheist community, her speaking roster, and her work with NPR.

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The Evolution of Charismatic and Pop Culture Christianity Vs. Punk Rock

An exploration of Order and Charism as expressions of culture and counter culture: A comparison with Pop music and the Punk Rock Movement.

The 1960s was a time of global social revolution, when counter culture became a centre point of popular culture, and tensions which had been building since the 1940s between traditional societal values and a generation who seemed to instinctively revolt against the conservatism that these values enforced, came to a head.

These tensions peaked early in the decade and saw infant movements such as the women’s rights movement, the anti-war movement, the African-American civil rights movement, the gay rights movement and the artistic and literary movements explode into the forefront of public awareness and become world changing – revolutions in their own right. The ideals of each of these revolutions seem to centre on a desire for equality and a peaceful integration of all humans, a utopia[1]. Even the negative aspects being promoted within some these movements – such as the literary revolutionists’ affinity with free love (meaningless sex) and the encouraging of drug use – still embrace these ideals.

In this essay I will be exploring how these movements influenced two conservative institutions that were also revolutionised during this era: the traditional church and pop music. I will also draw parallels between two related counter cultures that spawned from this social climate: the Charismatic Christian movement and the punk rock movement. My objective is to demonstrate that both the modern ordered and charismatic churches are ultimately direct expressions of social culture – either mainstream or counter – and both ultimately follow the same responsive path in spite of being in tension with each other. Finally, I will discuss how these parallels eventually merge, and what the outcome of this convergence might mean for the future direction of the church.http://hatethechristiannotchrist.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gif

Justice League – Justifying The Comparison.

To draw parallels between these institutions I first need to show how their histories and growth patterns relate to one another. I will do this by showing the timelines of (a) pop music VS the ordered church and (b) the punk movement VS the charismatic movement. This timeline will also highlight the similarity in causality and rapid growth pattern between the latter.

(a) Pop Music and the traditional Church.

For the purpose of my objective, I will not be exploring a complete world history of pop music or the ordered church as both these topics are of too massive a scale to be appreciated properly in this essay. I will instead primarily focus on the 1960s and 1970s and discuss what changes came into fruition for both of these institutions due to the social revolutions occurring at the time, and how these changes helped  sow the seeds for their respective counter cultures in the next decade.

Pop music has origins rooted in the late 1930s (and as far back as the Victorian era when one relaxes the definition to encompass the entire concept of ‘popular music’)[2] and, like the traditional church, largely remained bound to its roots and core structures (values and traditions) until the social revolution of the 1960s. During this time however, the influence of the surrounding social revolutions saw the inception of drastic changes to the foundations and ideals of both.

While pop music saw a shift away from the traditional content of politically correct love songs, written by professionals and performed by purposefully employed signers and classically trained musicians, to a new wave of rock ’n’ roll inspired pop musicians who wrote and performed their own compositions, the lyrical content of which began to reflect the revolutions and current events of the time with bands such as The Beatles (often considered a revolution in their own right), Simon & Garfunkel and Bob Dylan openly expressing anti-war, pro-drug use, pro-free love and pro-peace driven sentiments in a majority of their lyrics during this era. This shift in pop music permanently redefined the genre in both a literal and conceptual sense and for a time, pop music could be viewed as less a product of  and more a movement in itself.

Likewise, the church underwent significant, similar changes during this time[3]. The ideals of peaceful integration being rallied for by the feminist, anti-gay and African American civil rights were making their way into congregations around the globe and saw many churches allowing women more authoritative involvement in the church, a relaxing of the exclusion of homosexuals and an integration of African American churches with all white churches.  Most notable are the changes introduced into the Catholic Church by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, which aimed to engage the Church more closely with the present world and saw many long-upheld traditions either modified[4] (such as a relaxing of the rules and regulations of both lifestyle and dress requirements for those in the priesthood) or completely updated (such as encouraging all people to read the bible, which had previously been an activity assigned to clergy, or at best, the faithful).

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