Friday, June 13, 2008

The Simple Life

In his response in the negative to the Templeton Foundation question, “Does Science Make Belief in God Obsolete?”, Cardinal Schönborn writes,

The increase in leisure and health brought about by our increasing mastery over Nature has not resulted, as the ancient sages supposed, in an increase in wisdom and the contemplation of the good, the true, and the beautiful. Instead, our technology-based leisure is more likely to result in quiet hedonism, consumerism, and mind-numbing mass entertainment. While many still claim belief in God, the course of their lives reflects de facto agnosticism in which the “God hypothesis” is far from everyday experiences and priorities.
A few times I’ve started, but never finished, A Canticle for Leibowitz. Six hundred years after a nuclear holocaust, an abbey of Catholic monks survives during a new Dark Ages and preserves the little that remains of the world's scientific knowledge. “Preserve” meaning they’ve turned found objects into relics, they don’t themselves retain any scientific knowledge. This is because after the nuclear holocaust, those that remained blamed science and intellectuals for their condition and purged humanity of both during the Simplification. What very little knowledge that remained was “preserved” in monasteries.

The world we live in now, at least the U.S., appears to be in danger of undergoing a Simplification of its own. The majority of consumers of technology-based leisure, indeed the majority of people in general, do not have the education level to understand what or how all that technology exists. There aren’t gangs of Biologists shooting it out in territory battles with gangs of Geologists. The tools of our destruction are in the hands of those who didn’t create them. Education does lead to “wisdom and the contemplation of the good, the true, and the beautiful”, and not enough of us are getting that education. Neither our leaders nor our voters are equipped with the education necessary to get us through the complex problems that face our society. Those that do understand the complexities of both the problems and the answers lack the power to act on those answers and are ignored or attacked by those that don’t.

The Discovery Channel, which I love, had to toot its horn over,
“an average audience topping 1.34 million. First quarter was the youngest ever for Discovery, with a median age of 36 largely thanks to hit series Dirty Jobs and Mythbusters.” (Cable360.Net)
With a U.S. population of over 301 million, that’s whole lot more people whose myths aren’t getting busted. I don’t care that more people have the choice to watch So You Think You Can Dance, I care that more people actually choose to watch it. The educated are “elitist”; a word that’s certainly getting thrown around to vilify Obama. The love of learning, of appreciating the world around us at a level that requires our active engagement, isn’t spreading to enough people. And respect for science and those that understand science isn’t either. It isn’t religion that the mind-numbed masses need. What we need is a way, or the will, to un-numb our minds.

Nielson Ratings this week:

Thursday, June 12, 2008


As I'm married to a Belgian, who has for years been pointing out that Europe has been paying $6 - $7 per gallon while we were paying under $3 - so what are you Americans complaining about anyway, suddenly having to pay $63 to fill up the car (when only a year ago I swear I could do it for $45) doesn't surprise me. What does surprise me is how happy it makes me.

Suddenly the freeways aren’t so congested. Suddenly SUV's aren't all the rage anymore. Suddenly driving the speed-limit doesn't feel like being a boob.

I admit, I'm a get-out-the-left-lane-because-I'm-speeding asshole (
and now a check on traffic). I'm also a go-ahead-and-ride-my-ass-I'm-speeding-as-much-as-I'm-going-to asshole. Now, however, I've cultivated being a smug, travel-the-speed-limit-and-piss-everyone-else-off, Hypermiler asshole. Going the speed-limit, and maximizing coasting and deceleration, I've improved my gas mileage by 20% this week.

The Carpool Heretics will also be adding another person to the pool. Though we didn't include religion in our interview so there may be a True Christian™ infiltration of the pool.

I saw on the news about people who literally can't afford to pay the high gas price. They interviewed a couple who have started commuting to work on their bikes, the husband has to go 15 miles each way and has lost 20 pounds now, and have started to grow vegetables to save money. Oh my Shiva, we're getting healthier and driving more responsibly? This is horrible.

High gas prices are making the world a better place because it's forcing us to adopt behaviors we normally wouldn't.

The Curse of the Holy Blood

I've been nudged by Ordinary Girl and The Chaplain reminding me that I've been neglecting the Atheiosphere.

A couple months ago, I was in Belgium visiting my husband's family on vacation. Eight years ago, my husband proposed to me on a beautiful bridge in Brugge (Flemish spelling) in front of the beguinage. Motivated by the recent viewing of a movie called In Bruges (French spelling), we went back to Brugge.

Brugge is home to a holy relic, a bottle made from crystal containing the coagulated blood of Jesus Christ and brought to Brugge during the crusades. I had my chance to go up and honor the blood. No fee was demanded, though a donation of 2 Euros was suggested. My husband, brother and father-in-laws did go up and show their respect. My husband claimed that he only did it because, though he doesn't really believe, his Dad didn't want to do it alone. I called him a hypocrite and stayed smugly behind.
Two weeks later, on April 27, I was laid-off work along with 30 other people.

I must have been punished for my unbelief and blasphemy. Though what the other 29 people did to deserve it I don't know. Jesus does do collateral damage I guess. Woah... I suffered two long weeks of unemployment before finding a job that pays more than I was making and pocketing the other 4 weeks pay from my severance package. Yay I did suffer… I'm now horribly busy doing a job full-time that focuses on the one small aspect of my former job that I considered play; developing in SharePoint. Because of that business I've been unable to spend as much time in the Atheiosphere with the rest of you heretics.

Learn from me, ye heretics! If you're ever in Brugge, be sure to stop at the Chapel of the Holy Blood and disrespect the relic. Afterwards, relax with a Belgian beer in comfort as you await the wrath that is sure to come for you.