Tuesday, May 29, 2007

VA Beach Sunrise

I went to visit Timothy, my son who is in training at Fort Eustis VA. He had earned "Gold Status" meaning he could spend a weekend off base so we went to Virgina Beach. He caught this fantastic shot with his LG camera phone. I wanted this beautiful scene as wallpaper on my own phone, which would remind me of a memorable weekend with my soldier. He blue toothed it to me. Then, using the mobile blog function, I sent it directly to this blog page. Ain't technology fun!

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Assault On Reason by Al Gore

Gore's introduction gives a hint of his animosity towards our current administration but it gave me the impression that he and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to the "dumbing down" of our electorate. His premise is that we, the people, are like putty in the hands of marketing gurus who simply lead us like so many complacent sheep. Based on this introduction I figured I might actually find myself agreeing with someone with whom I rarely share ground.

By the time I was into the first chapter I realized that when Al says "Assault On Reason" what he really means is that anyone who isn't on the same page with him has obviously lost the ability to reason. The bulk of the first 8 chapters is little more than taking shots at the Bush administration (it doesn't matter whether it's Bush 41 or 43). He uses the various Right Wing bashing points as examples of how gullible the people are and how crafty the power mongers are. I got the point after one or two examples but Al carries on for chapter after chapter about the failings of conservatives, this administration in particular. I did find some enlightening references sprinkled through his diatribe so it's not a total loss.

Finally, in chapter 9 reason regains it's footing and Al does a fair job of tying up the thread he began in the introduction. The bottom line: The Internet has the potential to enable dialogue between we the people which will help us re-engage our minds with the hopeful outcome that we'll once again hold the government accountable to the rule of law and of reason. If you're a conservative, read the intro, skip to chapter 9 and you'll get the meat of his message. But you may find it very enlightening to hear how a liberal views the world. Of course, if you're a liberal, enjoy the pep rally.

Monday, May 14, 2007

"The God Delusion" and "Can Man Live Without God?"
A good friend whom I rarely see eye to eye with is a confirmed atheist. We've spent many an hour debating whether or not there is a God, more specifically, is the God of the Bible real. It is folly to think that either of us would budge from our positions but our debates have been some of the most mind expanding exercises I've ever experienced. As part of my self assigned "homework" I've read a couple of Richard Dawkin's works: The Blind Watchmaker and The God Delusion, the topic of today's post.

First of all, let me praise Mr. Dawkins, and Lalla Ward for a captivating reading of his work. They make a good oratory team, very pleasant listening. I was hoping for a bit more "meat" to chew on in God Delusion but to me, Richard simply sets up straw men then slays them magnificently. Like a skilled surgeon, he seeks out the most tumorous examples of mankind's failures in the name of religion then portrays them as the evil perpetrated by faith in God. I share his disgust for religion as we know it, having been corrupted by corrupt men, but that comparrison is just as useless as blaming a firearm for murdering someone. But from a more positive perspective, Christians, especially church leaders and clergy, should read TGD, not so much for what it reveals about atheism but for what it reveals about how religion is perceived by non-believers. It is to our shame that we have lost the message of The Cross in the cacophony of religious infighting and corruption.

A reasonable counterbalance to TGD is Ravi Zacharias' Can Man Live Without God?, a collection of speeches given by Mr. Zacharias. Ravi sets up his own straw men for battle and does an eloquent job of doing so. Of course, he's coming from the perspective of one who believes in an almighty Creator so he manages to raise questions that Mr. Dawkins didn't seem to think of. Where Dawkins attempts to appeal to logic, Ravi focuses more on the philosophical aspects of the state of mankind. My personal, and totally biased opinion, is that Zacharias gets a head start in the debate simply because he addresses the heart of man, rather than the mere mind of man.

To those who are convinced in their positions, whether it be for or against God, neither of these orators will sway you from your stance. To the very small segment of society which truly doesn't know and truly wants to know the answers, I recommend that you take a dose of each author. As one example in Zarcharias' work states: One perspective searches, and can't find proof of God while another can't find a place where God is not.
John Adams, Alexander Hamilton

I recently completed Ron Chernow's "Alexander Hamilton." In a nutshell: It's a must read for anyone interested in politics, finance, human nature, Americana or even just the trivia of the early history of the U.S.A. Hamilton provides a thrilling subject to be sure, but Chernow did a yeoman's work in sifting through an incredible mound of background literature on this key player in our nation's birth. Scott Brick's narration never bored me (I confess, I often neglected responsibilities during key sections of Hamilton's life.) I never knew about Hamilton's very humble beginnings as an illegitimate child. I was impressed by the role of honor and the importance of a man's word. Witnessing Hamilton's astonishing failures and the the way George Washington helped protect him from his own flaws was also enlightening. For a more complete picture of the era, read David McCullough's "John Adams." It's particularly good to get the difference in perspective both from the author as well as the subject. I would love to sit in a parlour, listening to Adams and Hamilton argue over details as they related the story of our nation's birth!