Thursday, August 22, 2013

Most Americans are, or should be, aware that the  United States is  clearly the epicenter of protestant fundamentalism. By my rough estimate, around 80 per cent or religious focused TV sound the old themes of Biblical inerrancy ,skepticism of science . opposition to the findings science, no matter how widely accepted such findings are. All the way from the thousand year old earth, the denial of evolution. the mocking of global warming. sexual preference as  innate ==the findings bearing on these issues. and others, are still stoutly denied.

But my focus here is not on the ignorance of these views but how such immunity to science and reason is effecting the American religious landscape and what it could lead to.

Must has been said and written in the last decades about the decline in numbers, and thus in influence, of what is called "the main stream churches." And such decline has clearly been evident. Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Lutheran, some forms of congregationalism struggle to keep membership figures. Even the Southern Baptist,  historically fundamentalist. have had to creep up to the Republican Party, to help secure their, now mainly Southern anti liberal tendencies.

 Now, I think there are two principal causes for the weakening of the main-line religions. First, the steady advance of science has made the rational undergirdings of supernatural religion less firm. What might have been accepted as quite believable ,say, 100 years ago, has become hard to accept. Just one example: The special creation by a creator of  the world 5000 years ago is simply not acceptable even to those of very limited education.  Denominations that attempted to grow by a combination of reason, tradition, and faith have seen reason(science) win much of the field , tradition not so sacrosanct , and faith, belief in the unseen, maybe not as good a tool to base living on

Second, we live in a world of many competing interest, and organized religion is just one among many. So how does organized religion 'hold its ground'?

Well, I suggest  a "more bang for the buck" approach. I'm not just talking about bowling alleys, free movies, dawn to dusk activities, making the church your second 'home.'

No, I'm suggesting change the theological/practice scene, Bring back with much greater fervor the idea that was called "Enthusiasm" which was always around at least at the edge of historic Christianity and which Ronald Knox wrote so elegantly about. Religion is not primarily about reason and tradition. IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS RELIGION IS JUST A MATTER OF FEELING . Get the faithful together and through music, or preaching or visits of the holy spirit stir the emotional pot to boiling and reap the harvest of souls. How dare reason, tradition stand in the way of what we know by our own "inner feelings!!"

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

MORMONS: Looney Tunes

I hate to be mean, but with this group, where do you start? Okay, it's our 'native' American religion, and it grows like a California wildfire. So there must be something there. RIGHT? Well, NO. Let's deal with METHOD, not Theology.

First, get a kind of shady crank guy.
Second, get some "Golden Tablets." straight from the BIG GUY or from one of his messangers..
Third, let your imagination run wild and make up some crazy history about jews and American Indians.
Four, throw in a little sex(man have many wives).
Five, spice things up with 'sacred temples'
Six. Have a university.
Seven Act like you have scholars.
Eight. Make it so garbled, you can just reinterpret any thing, anytime,

Hey, and don't forget the crazy underwear! Still can't figure that out. Your UNDERWEAR has religious significance!??

So, if your daughter wants to marry a Mormon? Not much you can do. Just swallow your pride. After all she might develop a yen for Scientology.

 to have scholards

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Most reasonably educated Americans are familiar with the term "Fundamentalism" as that term us used American religious discourse. Historically it came into popular use around the term of the 20th to  describe a reaction to liberalism in religious thinking associated with what was called "the higher criticism." This "criticism" turned a searching eye on the Biblical texts to see which were actual facts and occurencres as opposed to later, not always 'history,' in the sense of actual events or sayings.

The "fundamentalists," centered at first around Princeton University, rejected this "higher criticism" and drew up a list of  5 'fundamentals' which they claimed were absolutely essential to Christianity, indeed the very ;sine qua non' of the faith without which Christianity had no real eternal truth. In sum, the fundamentalist position was that the Bible was divinely inspired and was  thus inerrant, that us without error in theology or fact.  This inerrancy is still held by millions of  Americans. This book with no errors might not be so troublesome if its perfection were confined to theological matters, but when expanded to history and science, the results become grotesque.

The problem with any type of fundamentalism is that it reeks of  certainty. There is only one truth; all deviation from the 'fundamentals.' is, almost by definition, error ,if not outright evil, in religion and social thought.

Science, on the other hand, does not speak of certainty but probability. We call evolution in the natural world  a theory, but as a theory with such a high degree of certainty that we slip into calling it a 'fact.' But if we say the evolving of species in a certain way is hard fact then we gave closed the door the further, if any, refinements of the basic theory. "Facts" cannot change. "Theories" leave the door open to further discoveries.

Now today we have three theories, accepted by many facts and thus not challengable , that are creating problems that are impeding the advance of knowledge. First is religious fundamentalism , the idea that certain writings Biblical cannot be subject to error; then political Islam, the belief that major parts of Islam must be force upon the rest of the world by force if necessary. and third,  what I will call 'sexual fundamentalism,' doctrines about the sexual relationship of humans which, still day, cause major mischief in the lives and well being and happiness of millions.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

50 percent solution

The USA, when it comes to choosing a college to attend ,has advantage and problems. The over 3000 colleges gives an incredible range of choices. But also a problem: which  one to go to? Having taught at Edison, Memorial, and Mason, I kind of know how students and parents generally go about making a decision about post high school formal education.
Of course, every parent thinks his/her child is as smart as can be. But as the child's schooling goes along, the parent comes to some reality. My experience with high schoolers shows three basic approaches to college selection. First, every parent dreams of the "Ivy League," although few students or parents can name these schools. The Ivy League to most is Harvard, Yale, and ,maybe Princeton, unaware of the other 6. But if the student gets accepted to one of these 3, then the parents have clearly established their superior genes! Second, if  the "Ivies" don't 'call'---well what about a local or state public college? Local college can save big money. The student can live at home; the state public college gives real relief on tuition. Third, are what I call "prestige" colleges. The reason to go to one of these is not always clear. Maybe the student loves the school's sport program. So, how about Michigan, Notre Dame, or USC? Or maybe just the college name fascinates the youngster. Duke, Washington and Lee fit here. After all, Duke surely implies==well---aristocracy. And Washington and Lee , what name---the "founder" of our country AND a great, heroic general.
I'm not putting these colleges down. They're all first rate, but to many they are sought for the wrong reasons.
Well, how then to you pick a college to migrate to after high school? I suggest the student and his/her parents start by checking out 10 factors and  compare. These factors are important to me, but maybe these could be starting points that should be looked at. My suggestions, then.
SIZE of student body. I  prefer small student attendance. In addition to academics, a sense of community is important. And such a sense is hard to find if you're 1 of  many thousands. I'll give a number just as a starting point. I'll use a maximum of 2500 students.
DISTANCE from your home city. I recommend within 800 miles from your home. The student may want to come home more than the three times you might find at a college on the 'other' side off the country. And, perish the thought,! your parents might want to visit you on campus a couple of times a year!
COMPETION I. In my experience with high school seniors, college should not be a constant struggle. So I suggest the student go there he/she is in the upper 50 per cent based on ACT or SAT scores. This gives you plenty to 'chase after' and plenty to---well, 'stand' on.
COMPETION II. Kind of like just above. Did you graduate in the upper 50 per cent of your high school class? You want others for you to 'chase' and others 'chasing' you.
 ACCEPTANCE RATE. You may be near the top of your high school class; you may have really good ACT/SAT scores; BUT you may be competing for entry with hundreds or thousands just like you. Result: You may may not get accepted.
VARIETY. Most colleges want students from different states, different ethnicity, different social backgrounds etc. This factor can  help or hurt you in being admitted.
LIVE ON C AMPUS. To me this  is important. You're hardly in a community if the school is filled with commuters or off campus students.
WEEKENDS. Hopefully most students stay on campus on the weekend. You don't want to be left behind while  a mob of your classmates go skiing or whatever
TUITION. You don't want to bankrupt your family. Need more be said.
DEBT. There are plenty of student loan programs . But who wants to spend the next decade or  decades saddled with what could be heavy loan payments?
GREEKS. In other words, how many students belong to sororities and fraternities? Generally, I don't like them. They can further fragment the community feeling of the campus AND they can cost big money. But you may see it otherwise. So just reverse this negativity, and look at the Greek system as a positive

Where can you find information on the above criteria. The local library or bookstore has several huge books that will give you the answers you want. Not all these books 'tell' it all, but a combination of guides will reveal what you need to know.

Now, I'm going to try something a little different. Almost at random, I've selected 10 colleges and will try to quantify all the factors 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Basketball Conference To Watch for 'true' fans.

As I've done with the Big 10, I will divide the Big 12 into three categories showing final conference standings.

WINNERS CIRCLE: Teams that have good chance to win regular season title: Baylor, Missouri, Kansas.

PLACE: Good teams, but not on same level as the above: Texas A and M, Kansas State, Texas.

MAYBE NEXT YEAR:  OSU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Iowa State.

Will give final standings later today or tomorrow.
Our sports writer, jackjoe, is very excited about Big 12 basketball ths year. For the first time in years this major conference has a true home/away schedule for all teams. So he's dropping Big 10 forecast and doing Big 12 instead. Here's jackjoe.