Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Remember That You Are Dust

Like most of you, we at the Egg are bracing ourselves for Ash Wednesday. (Also the fourth birthday of Preschooler Anonymous. He's getting a bike and a Tintin book. Ssssh -- don't tell him.) It will be, as it often is, a long and tiring day, which begins a long and tiring season. We love Lent, madly and desperately; but it is the one part of the church year that sometimes makes us wish we were laypeople.

Okay. Maybe that's an overstatement. One of the things we love about Lent is the chance to preach a little more, at parishes which have midweek services, or to lead Bible studies, or to do any of those clerical things we should probably be doing more of during the rest of the year anyway.

But still, it's demanding. We often describe Lent as a sort of train tunnel. Once you go in, there is no way to change course by even a few degrees, much less turn back. You just keep going until you break out into the light. (In our case, that's usually about two weeks after Easter, since it takes us at least that long to catch up on the routine tasks we have deferred.) And never mind that the tunnel ends with a long, steep hill called Holy Week.

So if we don't keep up our frantic blogging pace for a while -- if, indeed, we don't blog much at all -- don't be concerned. It's not that we are ill, nor any less outraged by the antics of the Devil and his minions. But mad dogs, bad priests, military maneuvering, strange science, Christianism, bad vestments, Baroque prose and comic books will all be there when we get out of the tunnel, fifty-four days or so hence.

Right now, though, we've got a train to catch.


Daniel Spigelmyer said...

I especially like the imagery of "break out into the light." Seems appropriate for the ultimate consummation of the Lenten season at Easter. "Enjoy" your ride!

Joelle said...

Hang in there. It's all I can do to READ blogs, much less blog. And if you need to steal my coffee again, go ahead.

Nixon is Lord said...

There is no god so god can't have died or come back. And you should wipe off that pitiful attempt to mimic the catholics from your foreheads; it just makes you look stupid.

Father Anonymous said...

More than the smirk on yours?

But, seriously Nix, there seems to be a strange inconsistency in this comment, as in many others. On one hand, you claim that religion is a delusion; on the other hand, you seem genuinely offended when one or another of these supposedly delusional groups doesn't behave the way you think it should. But ... why do you care?

For that matter, why does an avowed atheist put so much time into cruising the religious weblogs? I know that you have been asked this question before on other blogs, but I've never seen an answer.

Come on -- 'fess up. The truth is obvious: like so many people who call themselves "atheists," you are in fact a very unhappy Christian.

Nixon is Lord said...

No, I'm a pretty mellow atheist who's glad he doesn't waste his tiime with dressing up and paying someone to talk to an invisible being.
Why "cruise" religious blogs? Why do people visit zoos?
I don't mind the bizarre metaphysics; it's their combination with lower levels of morals that truly shocks atheists; when we compare contries with low levels of religious belief/practice with countries with high levels of belief/practice, we don't see "It makes no difference" but "It seems to make it much worse." Compare the Czechs to the Mexicans or the Dutch to the Greeks or Estonia to Nigeria or Iran or Palestine. Or New England to Mississippi or Alabama.
See what I mean?

Father Anonymous said...

Sure. Stalin was notorious for his morality.

And while I admire the Czech Republic's low murder rate, I can't say the same for its record on (not) combating human trafficking.

Seriously, I don't actually think that atheists are any less moral than the average believer, and have no trouble believing that they may often be more so. But I have to say that the currently trendy claim of a superior morality falls apart on close examination. Other factors -- history, legal system, cultural norms, and economy -- seem a lot likelier to affect a nation's crime rates.

unkmonk1 said...

Then how does having a lot of religion affect "cultural norms"? or "legal systems"? Or honesty in keeping contracts and showing up for work in the "economy"?
All you've done is punt the question further down the river; you haven't answered it.
And it's hardly "trendy". People have been comparing what people do with what they profess since we've been able to talk about beliefs and record what we do and say.
So why should I run twice as fast to go backwards?

Father Anonymous said...

I wrote a long and thoughtful response to Unk, but Blogger wouldn't process it for some reason, and it's lost. I don't have time to compose another.

Obviously, I didn't "answer the question" of the nature and origins of morality in a single 50-word blog comment. Won't do it in this one either. Call me a punter if you must.

Briefly, though, I think you can agree (and in fact, the whole atheists-are-more-moral-than-thou argument depends upon this) that (a) societies do not recognize a single universal code of morality; and that (b) the particular behaviors a society accepts as "moral" or "immoral" have a variety of sources, of which religion is one -- and an influential one. But only one. So let's not oversimplify a massively complex subject, shall we?

As for whether pointing to the Czechs is trendy, it depends on your definition of trendy. I've seen it a lot lately, after never seeing it before, so I call it a trend.

I also call it a bogus argument. Sure, they commit murder at a much lower rate than the US -- who doesn't? But they commit drug offenses at a much higher rate, and have been slow to prosecute human trafficking. If I had to guess, though -- and it would only be a guess -- I would suspect that this has less to do with atheism per se than with 40 years of Communism, and its effect on both how laws are enforced and how they are obeyed.

Look, the Brits and the Finns are also rapidly secularizing societies -- with colossal (and growing) rates of binge-drinking. But post hoc does not equal propter hoc, and most people know it.

Father Anonymous said...
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