Late Night Thoughts (February 16, 2011)

…The Rocky Mountains begin less than a dozen miles to the West of where I sit.  They are 80 to 55 million years old.

Don, who knows these things, has told me that before the Rockies were, there was another mountain chain. One older than 80 million years.  And before that second chain, still another chain: One older yet.

Mountains rise, wear away, then rise again — in deep time.

Unimaginable time.  Our own species, which we sometimes think of as “the measure of all things”, is only about a quarter million years old.  Yet, even a quarter million years is much too old for us to really grasp.

…For most of us, our religious community seems far more important than our religious community’s theology.   That is, people attend church largely to socialize with their friends and acquaintances in the congregation; somewhat less to worship their  god; much less to learn about their god; and almost never to think critically about their god.  Yet, many proselytizing atheists focus on critical thinking.  That might be like trying to use a carpenter’s pencil to lever a house off its foundation.  On the other hand, if I ever want to convert people to atheism, I’ll first hold a social.

…”We find that friendships built in religious congregations are the secret ingredient in religion that makes people happier.”  –Chaeyoon Lim, writing in The American Sociological Review (December 2010).

…Alfred North Whitehead somewhere says, “The total absence of humor in the Bible is one of the most singular things in all literature.”   Of course, there is no such thing as an enlightened spirituality that does not laugh.

…Ayn Rand gives her followers the pleasure of being sheep while imagining themselves to be lions.  But any ideology will do the same.

…In America, intellectual clarity and political will seldom go hand in hand.

…Have you noticed how people who believe, “The entire purpose of sex is reproduction”, seldom appear to be the very same people who are having a lot of sex?

…One of the reasons so many of us lack a really sound understanding of human nature is because — ever since the rise of the first hierarchical societies — we humans have lied to each other about human nature in order to justify society and the state.  Indeed, there have been whole historical periods — whole ages —  in which to know the truth of human nature was to risk being condemned as a traitor to the social order.  And, to some extent, it really isn’t that much different even today.

…We sometimes tell young people they must rebel — throw off their political, social, and economic chains.  And perhaps — given the direction of things today — it will increasingly become necessary and wise to urge young people to rebel.   Yet, rebellion should not be the primary obligation of youth.  It is only to the extent that society fails youth, that youth must be taught to rebel.

…”Where there is love, there is neither desire nor fear.”   Of course, one is now speaking of a kind of love that falls somewhere beyond the sort of loves most of us think of when we hear the word, “love.”

“Where there is love, there is neither desire nor fear.”  That is certainly not the love one spouse feels for the other, nor the love of a mother for her child, nor the love a person feels for his or her sibling, nor any common love — for all such loves involve, to one extent or another, desire and fear.

“Where there is love, there is neither desire nor fear”  So far as I know, no other kind of love is more radically transformative than the love that is without desire and fear.

…The oldest — the very oldest mountains to the West of me — are not 55 or 80 or even 180 million years old.  The oldest are much older than that.  Older than the dinosaurs.   Older even than the insects.  The very oldest mountains are 3,980 million years old.

7 thoughts on “Late Night Thoughts (February 16, 2011)

  1. “Have you noticed how people who believe, “The entire purpose of sex is reproduction”, seldom appear to be the very same people who are having a lot of sex?”

    Actually I haven’t noticed this, but that may be my perspective. Everyone I grew up around was doing a very good job of overpopulating the earth, and held the “reproduction only” view (as far as I know).

  2. “…For most of us, our religious community seems far more important than our religious community’s theology. That is, people attend church largely to socialize with their friends and acquaintances in the congregation; somewhat less to worship their god; much less to learn about their god; and almost never to think critically about their god. Yet, many proselytizing atheists focus on critical thinking. That might be like trying to use a carpenter’s pencil to lever a house off its foundation. On the other hand, if I ever want to convert people to atheism, I’ll first hold a social.”

    That is simply true. So perhaps the religiously devout aren’t interested in god as much as they are longing for a sense of belonging to something bigger than they are …

    • That could be true. I think a lot of it also just comes down to finding friends in a busy world where a lot of people move to different parts of the country every few years to keep up with their jobs.

  3. “…Alfred North Whitehead somewhere says, “The total absence of humor in the Bible is one of the most singular things in all literature.” Of course, there is no such thing as an enlightened spirituality that does not laugh.”

    Maybe there is humor in the Bible, but for cultural and linguistic reasons we are unable to recognize it. Maybe there are puns and jokes that do not translate well into English, or references that an ancient audience would recognize but a modern one would not.

  4. Pingback: Love, It’s Just About Love « Walking in the Shadows

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