Letter from the Editor: I’m Just Tired

As the title says, I’m just tired, exhausted, worn down, exasperated… Does anyone else feel it?

 

Wait, let me elaborate before you sigh and cast your weary gaze to the back button, expecting this to be nothing but a series of complaints from a millennial who actually has to work for his money. You would be quite wrong, of course, as I rarely give people exactly what they expect.

 

As an activist, blogger, podcast host, engineer, homeowner, small business owner, husband, responsible pet owner, and soon to be father of a tiny human female I accept the weariness this will dispel. I understand that life can be filled with siestas and 40 hour cog in the machine workweeks if one can willingly submit. I understand all of these things but that is not the reason for my fatigue, it is the repetition.

 

obama-nazi-communist-muslim

Repetition in argumentation, repetition in political idiocy, repetition in online bigotry, repetition in financial irresponsibility, repetition of traditional oppression, and the list goes on and on…

 

I am so tired of the same arguments from the right wing arch conservatives: gay marriage will destroy all moral structure ending in malicious bestiality, deregulation of the economy will create more jobs not slave wages and serfdom, tax breaks-school funding / social programming cuts will force the poor to actually work, and Obama is a Muslim Nazi.

 

I am so tired of reading stories of political leaders announcing their intentions to take big money out of politics when we can see the list of their campaign contributors are the top wall street mega corporations. I am tired of politicians charged with protecting the American people putting “Freedom”, “Patriot”, or “Religious Freedom” at the beginning of some of the most subversive legislation to ever attack our basic human rights. And, I am tired of a two party system that uses unethical financial bullying to prevent decent discourse and the diversity of the people from being represented in our “Democratic Republic” election cycles.
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About that God-Shaped Hole

This piece is a contribution from our good friend David Goza who can also be watched here.

Throughout most of my life, I’ve regularly heard one version or another of a shopworn claim made by pulpiteers, Sunday school teachers, Christian bloggers and authors, participants in Christian Facebook groups, and so forth. It goes like this: There’s a “God-shaped hole” inside each of us, and unless we fill it with God we’ll never be happy. Since nature abhors a vacuum, we’ll try to fill that void with something (a list usually follows, and will typically include sex, drugs and rock-‘n’-roll). But nothing we try to fill it with will ever really satisfy us since only God can fill it perfectly.

 

One encounters many variations on this theme, including the often-heard claim that atheists make a religion of evolution or a god of Richard Dawkins (or of themselves) and that those who do not embrace the Kingdom of Heaven will almost certainly become political activists of the communist variety, bent on establishing their own substitute heavenly kingdom on Earth.

 

That claim is a gross distortion of a metaphor coined by Jean Paul Sartre, who spent much of his career teasing apart the particulars of our uneasy relationship with the culture in which we find ourselves embroiled without having chosen it. His “God-shaped hole” metaphor points at the essential emptiness at the heart of our industrial civilization, with its pointless routines, infuriating distractions and glut of cheap, toxic crap. It’s a poignant metaphor meant to capture the poignancy of our predicament.

 

The misuse I cited earlier represents a warping almost beyond recognition by those who employ Sartre’s metaphor casually without having read what he had to say about it. I want to try to couch it in terms that make better sense, that are truer to Sartre’s meaning.

 

It’s obvious that most humans feel a deep need for meaning in their lives, and thus pursue it in various ways. Many – surely most to at least some degree – seek meaning outside themselves, in something “larger” (the family, the community, the state, the church, the cosmos), but this isn’t true of everyone. A few seem to locate meaning only in themselves, and this leads to some distressingly predictable behaviors. Those so described almost inevitably end up at the top of whatever ladder it is they’re climbing and thus join the ranks of the most dangerous people alive: the narcissists and sociopaths who wield great power and command vast wealth. Like black holes, they take but do not give. In their case, it may be that “meaning” is the wrong word: perhaps “fulfillment” would be a better choice.
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A few thoughts on Christianity and Technology

Christianity has never been a friend of new technology unless it is beneficial for the church, which it seldom has. Mostly because new technology means a better life for the average human being and less control for the church, plus the fact that some inventions meant less income for the church. Of course Christianity is not alone in this technological slowdown. Islam was once a religion that promoted research and new inventions. The first man to actually have been known to “fly” was a Muslim from Grenada which is in today’s Spain. He more or less broke every bone in his body, but he flew some meters before everything ended badly. Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazali have been blamed for the stagnation in Islamic science after his work Tahâfut al-falâ-sifa, which is a philosophical work about cause and effect. This has been greatly approved as correct from both western and eastern historians and scientists though the whole truth is a bit more complex.

 

Christianity in contrast to, for instance, Norse religion has always been a huge hinderance for human progress when it comes to using new knowledge and technology. I am not stating that the Norse religion was better when it comes to the belief in gods, but I am saying that they were a lot more open to the use of new technology, whether they invented something them selves or “found” it. Like the compass, which initially the Christians condemned that as witchcraft until the great sailors as Magellan and Christopher Columbus gave a damn about the church and used it anyway. The Vikings invented the solar compass using a stick thread through a circle with chips in it and a solar stone which could make shadows on the chipped wooden circle even when it was clouded. Thus making them the first “world” sailors. Allowing them able to colonize Vinland (somewhere in Canada, no one knows for sure where this was), invade England, and travel to Persia to trade with both Romans and Arabians. Of course all this could have been another story if it were not for the church and it’s allergy towards new technology as the magnetic compass had been used for some time in the Asian world. It was invented in China where no one really understood the scientific reason for why it worked as it did, but they understood the importance of it in consistent navigation where visual landmarks could not be used.
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