Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Rod Dreher explains the right way to believe in God...sort of

I found this teaching by the One both strangely ambitious and remarkably empty at the same time.

In a post entitled Postmodernism & Secular Fundamentalism, an atheist commenter said

My creator endowed me with a brain that does not allow me to believe in, say, the story of Shadrach.

And I also agree with Flannery O’Conner’s observation to Mary McCarthy concerning the taking of Communion: “If it’s a metaphor, then to hell with.”

Unlike many of the new atheists, I see that there is much that is good and beautiful about organized religion.

And like many Freethinkers, I realize that many people like Rod Dreher would be miserable without a personal deity.

Their belief neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

That seemed pretty tame to me for an atheist. But not to Dreher. He snarled,

[NFR: Like many so-called "freethinkers," you mistake your own worldview for a neutral one. How do you know I would be "miserable" if God did not exist? That's a self-serving perspective that seeks to explain away religious belief as a compensatory emotional or psychological phenomenon. Could I not say that people like you cannot accept the possibility that God exists because if He does, then you aren't free to do whatever you like? Yes, I could. And it may be true, because it was true for me when I was a young man. But it also might not be true, in your case. Point is, you don't know why I believe in God. -- RD]

In order not to disrupt the narrative flow, I'll let others examine any non sequiturs involved in Rod's reply. Ultimately, they don't really seem all that important, because the actual whammy conclusion ends up being no more than that "You don't know me, man, so you can't say anything about me!", which is always a good all-purpose remedy to anything anyone says. I wouldn't use it if a cop stops you for speeding, though, but otherwise. To continue.

Suitably chastened, the atheist later whined

I’m sorry Rod,

I thought you said that you WERE miserable during a period of your life when you were experiencing doubts about the existence of God.

Rod lets him kiss the Harry Potter frames in penance and explains

[NFR: I was miserable, but I didn't start believing in God as a way to get rid of misery (though it helped). Believing in God because you might get something out of it doesn't work. And in fact, some of the most miserable people I know are Christians ... but then, if they were atheists or Hindus, they would be miserable, I'm convinced. -- RD]

Doesn't work? I'd count getting saved as getting something out of it, but okay. Strangely, having pulled this "self-serving perspective" out of the bunny, Dreher never does say what does work. So we'll just have to guess.

So what else doesn't work? And what does?

Believing in God because Chartres Cathedral seems to have been on the approved list, although believing in God because of some smoking hot chick God made Himself probably doesn't, so if you don't believe already, you need to be saving for that ticket to France, not to Cancun. I think it's safe to say oysters are in, the vast wonder of the great outdoors itself, probably not so much.

While you're making your lists and checking them against the Book of Rod, I have to tell you I get the sense there's some kind of fix in on this, like one of those job descriptions that only happens to fit the CEO's nephew. It might or might not involve things like chairs and benches, or long natural beards, or even Dante. But whatever it is, I'll bet a six-pack that Dreher's got the qualifications and I don't. Dang.

Monday, January 27, 2014

What's up with Mark Steyn and National Review?

His last post there was Christmas Eve, and his prior post just two days earlier is salted with enough allusions to editorial disagreement to bring John Derbyshire's fate to mind.

Is Steyn just preoccupied playing hockey stick with Michael Mann, or is something else going on?