Saturday, November 27, 2010

Are We Thinking Biblically?

Francis Chan questions if most Christians think biblically today. He makes a convincing case most of us dont!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Can’t We All Get Along?


I was alerted to the following article about religious tolerance recently. If you don’t feel like clicking the link, here’s a short excerpt for your consideration. As religions such as Islam, Buddhism, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints “become more familiar to Americans, especially through personal friendships and familial relationships across religious lines, they too will enjoy a more positive image.” The article is interesting and makes some good points although be warned, you may be a little provoked by the content. I was.

One of my beefs is condemnation or mischaracterization of religions without any rational discussion. This is not the same as saying that everyone’s going to heaven. I certainly don’t believe that. Although I will not enter that debate here. I do believe there is room for meaningful discussion which might include some positive spin on some aspect of a Muslim’s faith, or the faith of a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Maybe that is because I have some friends who believe differently than I do.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Boy visits heaven. He'll tell you it's real...and an example of my skepticism

Sometimes friends send videos on Youtube. Sometimes you get so irritated that the video was of an interview that happened on Fox News, that you have to cease you're paper at once and make a comment about it.

Here's the video...and in short, it's  a boy who had an out of body experience who visited his dead grandpa in heaven and saw God (who was really big) and saw Jesus as well (who had blue eyes and his smile lit up the heavens)...

First off, this isn't news (note: I hate Fox News and CNN equally).

My friend asked me for my thoughts on the video.

Here is my reply:

Possible. I'm skeptical. But I will say there is some solid cognitive explanation for what's going on. Here is a 15 minute excellent podcast discussing the topic of "out of body experiences" scientifically (but far from boring).

In short in the experience of the boy, I am not sure he visited heaven. It's possible that what is going on in his brain that I think is going on is a very "real" experience in that just because I understand how an out of body experience happens in the brain does not mean the experience is false. But in short, for an out of body experience, the brain is shutting down and collapsing and falling apart and loosing connection to the rest of the body left and right...and the brain doesn't know how to make sense of it...the body parts are unable to send signals back and fourth to the brain (Ground Control to Major Tom, can you hear me? (silence)).....

In this chaos and confusion the brain recognizing these differences and looking for any plausible explanation of what's going on and thus...heaven (for an already Christian family) must be the explanation. Images, composed, etc...Essentially "going to heaven moments" on the brink of death are just a coping mechanism in the head for to fill in the gaps of confusion that are caused by the body shutting down (thus when you hear your're whole life: :"When you die, you go to heaven." Your brain can never fully accept death. So it tries to simulate what it's been told it's whole life will happen upon death. And with science today, people can be recovered and restored in spite of the death the brain is preparing itself for and thus the brain sees this as a descending back to earth from the heaven it was preparing itself for (tunnel of light, hearing God's voice, etc...)

There are many similar reports from people who don't even believe in God, or during less traumatic times (this "experience" happens to pilots all the time where they have so many G's against them that their brain is disillusioned and next thing the pilots know is that they are watching themselves fly the plane from outside the plane "Out of Body Experience" and at this point everything is just delusional and your brain is trying to organize itself and tell itself a story that it simply cannot keep up with...This comes out best in the podcast link above)

I don't like being a skeptic. And this doesn't hurt my faith one bit. 

Biggest evidence for me: Jesus had blue eyes according to the boy. (what his image and perception of Jesus was before the experience and God "having the whole world in his hands" and thus being very big).

Friday, November 12, 2010

Can’t Afford to Fly to Paris to See the Mona Lisa?


Wait. That’s not a picture of Lisa Gherardini.

There are three museums I haven't been to that I want to go more than any other. The Louvre, the British Museum and the Pergamon Museum. Two of them have a pretty decent website. I was just reminded of this the other day when a friend pointed me to this article.

One of my favorite objets d'art are cylinder seals. There's one here at the Metropolitan Musuem of Art from Assyria dating back to about the 13th century BC. And you don't even have to visit NYC to see it. And then there's the Parthenon, in the guise of what are known as the Elgin Marbles, and all of the drama associated with the pillaging of sites back before there were laws prohibiting removing artifacts from their home country.

The "50 Amazing" exhibits yield some gems but also some missteps. Not all of the sites are great, (nor do they all play well with Chrome, my favored browser) but all of them offer the potential of numerous hours of happy time-wasting.

The other nice thing about online museum browsing: you don't have to worry about them closing the ancient near east exhibit early on you because they don't have the staff to provide security and everybody else in the museum wants to see the Impressionists.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Because...well...It's really all I've been thinking about....

This week I became an internet crack addict. And not just the internet in general, but addicted to scrounging through the various ugly text-heavy backpages of the internet in hopes of uncovering a Slavoj Zizek article or essay here or there. Between being really sick and trying to write what i could without sounding like a maniac, I did nothing else except try and read Zizek (contemporary philosopher).

His style is hard to keep up with. But I quickly got acclimated. Because, he was my therapist that I had been looking for in my postmodern cynicism that has really weighed heavy on my shoulders the past 6 or so months (really, it's been kind of like an intellectual nightmare, but for me, philosophical difficulties cut me deeper than a real relationship ever could).....

And Zizek was my guide, acknowledging the advantages of post-modernism but also acknowledging it as entirely empty, and he did so using the same deconstruction tools post-modern thinkers love to call their own (thus I felt I was not being converted for a foreigner, but rather felt like it was a man who walked out of my plight a while ago, but decided to come back and rescue me as well because he was one like me)...

So in short, Zizek in one, what seemed like endless week, politely asked for entry into myself (his philosophy at least) and with a little shove hear and dusting there, his philosophy has made a believer out of me....

Because, last night....I read an essay of his....and it blew me away. Zizek is an atheist, but he calls himself a material Christian. And the following essay is one of the main reasons why (the philosophy of Christianity being his attraction).....I was taken back in the essay. I have no words really. Just know that when I was done reading it....I felt like this kid:

Not only was Zizek showing me the out of the postmodern futility, but he was doing show with Christianity as the better way...but also presented in a way I had never thought about it....A way that shows how not only is Christianity a fantastic ideal, but it is, in itself the way past the cynicism of our age...

Suddenly Christianity became not a way to salvation, or a way to heaven, or a "help," but the only explanation for life here and now.

In short, here is the's very dense and difficult to read through, but if you find the strength to follow his stream of consciousness's of the most infinite reward...

Zizek I feel, in this essay, is giving us what Christianity will look like past a postmodern world when and if the world decides to pick itself up and walk on from it's cries of meaninglessness in the death of an absolute.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Sound of Music? Only the Most Racist Movie Ever

Slavoj Zizek, if you can tolerate his accent is one of the superstars of contemporary philosophy. I have become infatuated with his ideas ever since I read an essay discussing his thought a few weeks ago. One of the ways he works best is finding points of his theories working in film and culture to connect the dots. Here is Slavoj dissecting the racism of Sound of Music (you will never watch the film the same way again):