- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 28, 2008

Not so brave

“Although it is often they who accuse us of being babyish, needing a big daddy in the sky to lean on, there is something profoundly immature about atheists. That surly, self-satisfied certainty that insists that one is the first person, ever, to see with a white-hot, burning clarity straight to the heart of society’s attempts to manipulate and control us all for its own ends.

“Today, atheism is big business with the success of books like ‘The God Delusion.’ If you want to get ahead, be a heretic! Something, however, has been lost. Say the word ‘atheist’ 100 years ago and it conjured up a vision of sexy, freewheeling rebels celebrating life, love and creativity in their rejection of a higher power. Say it now and a vision of fun-hating killjoys, desperately scared that somewhere a Christian is having a good time by singing lustily in church on a Sunday morning, comes to mind. And, sadly, the alleged ‘humanist morality’ never happened - to this day, 80 percent of all unpaid and unself-interested voluntary and charity work is faith-driven.

“The problem, which Western atheists miss, is that to be a heretic here requires no bravery whatsoever. On the contrary … the mocking of Judeo-Christian belief is a mainstay of prime-time entertainment and has been so since ‘The Life of Brian.’”

- Julie Burchill, writing on “For the love of Christ” on Aug. 14 at the Guardian blog Comment is Free

Ancient embryology

“Let’s put this more simply for Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and her office: Madame Speaker, you can’t reduce the church’s teaching to a 1,500-year-old sound bite, which you don’t understand.

“What was Augustine’s understanding of abortion? Keep in mind that Augustine was working with the scientific knowledge of his day. I think we can admit that we have progressed since the 5th century. …

“But Augustine also thought that males were vivified at 30 days and females at 90 days. Does Speaker Pelosi like that position too? Or is she content simply to cherry-pick ancient Patristic sound bites she does not understand?”

- The Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, writing on “Pelosi’s Spokesman Responds with More Gobbledygook, Quotes Augustine Again” on Aug. 26 at his blog “What Does the Prayer Really Say”

The crazy aunt

“In his recently published book, ‘Rapture Ready! Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture,’ [Daniel] Radosh bravely ventures into Christian music festivals, Holy Land theme park, Christian comedy clubs and even Christian pro-wrestling matches to dig out the hairy secrets buried in the kitschy recesses of pop evangelicalism. And he lives to tell about it. And tell about it he does, spilling the embarrassing facts of this $7 billion industry. …

“Recurrently, he befriends kind, sensible, intelligent evangelicals, and these people shift his religious/anthropological paradigm more than his discovery of Christians’ sex tips or their Halloween hell house. And so it seems that he is able to escape cynicism because he quickly observes that the extremist hell-house Christians are not paddling in the mainstream. ‘I could no longer think of [undistilled fundamentalism] as the purest, most authentic expression - the secret id - of evangelical pop culture. Instead it seemed more like the crazy aunt in the attic - part of the family that few were willing to totally disown but that most were a little ashamed of.’”

- Kristen Scharold, writing on “Are you Ready?” on Aug. 14 at the First Things blog On the Square

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