Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Winter Solstice!

It's Monday. Robyn has finished all of her finals, and I had my last day before the break on Friday. Tonight, we're taking the train up to Chicago, then flying to Boston tomorrow afternoon. We'll be in New Hampshire with Robyn's family for Christmas, then taking either a train or a bus down to New York for a couple of days over New Year's. If you'll be around, let us know.

It being the Holidays and all, I thought I'd take this opportunity to share a few articles from Religion Dispatches with you. Robyn has been following this website for a while and has gotten me into it, and I think that it's a great way to waste time on the internet while also actually maybe possibly reading something thoughtful and intelligent.

The first article that you should read is: Tebow's Tears: Is God Really a Gator Fan? It's about Tim Tebow and how he wears his religion not only on his sleeve but also on his face, writing the chapter and verse of a Bible selection beneath his eyes for each game. The author says:

I have struggled in the past several weeks to come to terms with my own apparent prejudices. Something about these painted Bible verses offends me, and I have not yet been able to articulate a way for that reaction to be consistent. To be sure, as a scholar of religion, I am frustrated, when I am not dumbfounded, by the happy-go-lucky and freewheeling scriptural exegeses that Tebow’s weekly verse selection now prompts on national televison.

But that hardly seems fair. Tim Tebow is an evangelical Christian of impeccable pedigree, and he has used his raw athletic talent to get me, and tens of thousands like me each week, to pick up the Bible and read it. That is no mean accomplishment.

More substantively perhaps, this kind of bumper-sticker spirituality—quote a Bible verse, just one or two, and completely out of context—makes me very nervous. It invites the false assumption that one can cherry-pick from the Bible, finding the verse one needs for any occasion. If you are at a sporting match, then look for someplace where Mark describes a contest, Paul invokes athletics or a great cloud of witnesses, or some other evangelist invokes victory. There does seem to be something down-dumbing in such a biblical practice.

Religion Dispatches generally has scholars and philosophers write their article, as well as interesting peoples of different faiths, plus a few random journalists, bloggers, etc. A fun philosophical piece that you could read is Lying About Santa: The Irrelevance of Proof to the Holiday Spirit, which is in turn a response to "Beyond Belief: A Philosophical Proof of Santa Claus." You see now why I like this website.

Of course, if you're a total Grinch and would rather spend your Holidays worrying about the poor and needy in the world, well, Religion Dispatches has stuff about that, too. In today's article Changing the Jewish State and the State of Jews: J Street and the Future of Israel, author Mark LeVine writes,

The Israeli ambassador to the US recently joined the American right charging that pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian J Street put the very “survival of the Jewish state” into question. Indeed, recognizing the full humanity of Palestinians would require a radical transformation of Israeli, Zionist, and even Jewish-American identity.
Merry Christmas.

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