Plastic Pastors (Environmental Myths In the Pulpit)

While I criticize some stats in a sermon here, take note that both the pastor and the church involved are one of the better churches in our valley (SCV) and the whole of the message is not affected by this portion. For the entire sermon in context you can go here and search for the sermon dated 7-11-2010. My main point is that when one goes to organizations that are driven by an almost eco-fascist drive or some emergent liberalism, you are going to get skewed stats.

Again, I would not tell people not to go to Grace Baptist. It is a wonderful church.

I wasn’t going to post on this subject, and all-in-all, this topic is one Christians have the moral superiority in.

A poignant point from a discussion about Global Warming via a professor I admire:

…one that bedevils an atheist philosopher friend of mine: “if human beings are part of nature, then why is that we, rather than the chimpanzee, have a special responsibility to care for nature. And if we do have this responsibility, what is its limits and rightful powers? Is irrigation moral if it leads to human flourishing, or should we ask the beavers for their permission?” I am not being facetious. If there is nothing special about us–if we have not been given “dominion” over nature, as the Bible teaches–then it seems that the atheist environmentalist has a very tough time explaining why we should be in charge and what technological innovation that disturbs natural patterns is appropriate for that responsibility. Hence, Christian environmentalism is far more defensible than any secular variety, IMHO.

(Francis Beckwith quoting a friend)

BUT, stats and movements founded on these false statistics shouldn’t be used in the pulpit. When the secular left rejects true religion, they supplement their spiritual quest with that of fallible mans quest as the object of their religion. Which is why many call — rightly so — modern day environmentalism a religion. A recipe for disaster. So pastors should be weary of this stretching of man’s credibility found all-too-often in the environmental progressive left. Likewise, this leftism has infected the church. Here is an exceprt from a book written by “emergent leaders” that will shed some light on how this man-made religion infects the church. This is taken from an old post entitled, “Feminist Extremism, Eastern Concepts in Youth Specialties and Gaia in Emergence“:

Via:  A is for Abductive: The Language of the Emerging Church.

C is for Creation

What modern secularists called “nature” (a term that turned a sacred work of art into a profane source of “raw materials”) and what modern Christians always linked with “versus evolu­tion” (thus turning a sacred mystery into a profane and mis­guided argument).

What ancient Christians viewed, along with Holy Scripture, as one of God’s two primary sources of self-revelation.

What emerging Christians will cherish as God’s art gallery in which we live and of which we are a part and for which we were created as planetary trustees and caretakers.

Later of course we get to the “action” (the “praxy” if you will) behind the emergent meaning:

… For postmoderns, it’s “Mother Earth,” holy ground tragically portrayed in the words of James Merrill: “Father Time and Mother Earth, A marriage on the rocks.” No wonder the word environment is used less and less; it’s too cold a word for this theology of “holy ground.”

If our humaneness is most manifest in our relationships—with swallows and snails, with friends and enemies, with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the modern world needed mar­riage counseling big-time. The willingness to sacrifice living systems for commerce has meant that the lungs and other vital organs of Mother Earth are being cannibalized to the point where “natural” disasters are no longer “natural” but induced.

The mad weather patterns of the past decade are a byproduct of disappearing forests (at current rates of deforestation, Ecuador will be totally barren of trees in 20 years), disappearing healthy air, and disappearing ecosystems….

There are now over 130,000 religion and ecology projects in operation worldwide. Unfortunately, very few of them are emanating from evangelical churches.

So when people like Rob Bell, Ken Blanchard, Leonard Sweet, or Brian McLaren mention “Creation,” Al Gore and Rosemary Ellen Guiley are thrown into the meaning and action taken from that word/concept.

REMEMBER, Grace Baptist IS NOT an Emergent type church. This sermon merely gives me the opportunity to critique eco-leftists and liberal theology a bit. So the following is a video critique of parts of the sermon followed by more information about the topics:


TRASH ISLANDS


Other wise known as “The Great Garbage Patch Charlie Brown!”

This is with a h/t to The Dennis Prager Show:

“Great Garbage Patch” in the Pacific Ocean not so great claim scientists

Claims that the “Great Garbage Patch” between California and Japan is twice the size of Texas is “grossly exaggerated” said the research which reckons it is more like one per cent the size.

Further reports that the oceans are filled with more plastic than plankton, and that the patch has been growing tenfold each decade since the 1950s are equally misleading, the new research claimed.

In reality it often cannot even be seen from the deck of a passing boat, said the latest analysts from the Oregon State University professor of oceanography Angelicque White.

The scientist took part in a recent marine expedition to examine the mass of plastic that is floating in the ocean and found there was a problem.

But genuine scientific concerns are undermined by scare tactics from those proclaiming the trash patch is so big that there is more plastic than plankton in the Pacific….

Another news source says this:

Big Stink: Great Garbage Patch’s Size Exaggerated

The “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is often said to be twice the size of Texas—but that and other scary-sounding claims are “grossly exaggerated,” some scientists are now insisting. A new study shows the plastic waste patch is actually 200 times smaller than previously claimed when comparing its mass to the amount of water; if you need a Texas-sized visual, it’s actually closer to 1% of the state’s area, says researcher Angelicque White.

She is quick to add that the amount of plastic in the ocean is definitely “troubling,” but that scare tactics only “undermine the credibility of scientists.” White adds, “it is simply inaccurate to state that plastic outweighs plankton, or that we have observed an exponential increase in plastic.” At this point, trying to get rid of the plastic is too expensive and potentially damaging to the ocean’s ecology, the Telegraph reports; White recommends focusing on prevention going forward. Click to read about its sister garbage patch in the Atlantic.

An updated article on this can be found at THE FEDERALIST, and it comes my way with thanks to GAY PATRIOT.


WATER BOTTLE MYTHS


From an older post, URBAN LEGENDS — WATER BOTTLES (Updated HERE), as well on some bottle myths:

I have worked at Whole Foods long enough to hear many of the “health myths” that typically float through the customer base there. One of these myths about health and product is found in the scare about plastic water bottles. It started in an email referencing a masters thesis by a student at the University of Idaho. The media, according to Snopes, ran with the story even though there was no peer reviews of the students work. They have this myth marked as false. Another worth-while article to read is by Carol Rees Parrish, R.D., M.S., entitled, “Bottled Water Myths: Separating Fact from Fiction.” In it it is pointed out that,

Based on the evidence available to date, it appears the true health risks (if any) related to drinking commercially manufactured bottled water or water in refillable plastic bottles may or may not come from the plastic itself. Further study is warranted to determine if poly carbonate plastics can cause harm to humans. Consumers should focus more on the quality of the drinking water, particularly from a microbe perspective as this point is indisputable, rather than chemicals leaching from the container.

Nutrition Issues In Gastroenterology, Series #50 (PDF)

One of the organizations implicated as supporting the health risks by bottled water , John Hopkins, released this statement in their Public Health News Center bulletin:

The Internet is flooded with messages warning against freezing water in plastic bottles or cooking with plastics in the microwave oven. These messages, frequently titled “Johns Hopkins Cancer News” or “Johns Hopkins Cancer Update,” are falsely attributed to Johns Hopkins and we do not endorse their content. Freezing water does not cause the release of chemicals from plastic bottles.

Email Hoax Regarding Freezing Water Bottles and Microwave Cooking,” John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

In a short video, Dr. Joe Schwarcz, author of Brain Fuel: 199 Mind-Expanding Inquiries into the Science of Everyday Life, explains some of these myths in more detail:

Even author Elizabeth Royte mentioned in an interview that this is a myth of grand proportions. (She is the author of Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It.) Again, the folks at Johns Hopkins sat down with Dr. Rolf Haden, assistant professor at Department of Environmental Health Sciences and the Center for Water and Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Haden dispelled the myth saying “This is an urban legend. There are no dioxins in plastics. In addition, freezing actually works against the release of chemicals.”

This myth perpetuates typically, but not always, from folks who like to shop at Whole Foods, believe in anthropogenic global warming, and want Bush brought up on war crimes. In other words, their science is as debased in critical thinking as their politics (I had to make this politically relevant… for this blog).

Updated info from BIG GOVERNMENT:

…Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a chemical used to harden plastic so it can be used in the countless ways it helps improve countless millions of lives. As it is a chemical, it was only a matter of time before the extremist environmentalists started talking of the “dangers” of it to human beings. Ironically, charges of this nature are always led by people who have no concern of human beings. They are the same type of people who effectively banned the mosquito killing agent DDT. That ban has led to millions of avoidable deaths around the world from malaria. While the banning of BPA wouldn’t lead to deaths, it’s banning wouldn’t save any lives either. But it would put a lot of people out of work.

But work, jobs, livelihoods of individuals has no place in the environmental extremist agenda. They’ve replaced what was known to kill malaria carrying mosquitos with nets to sleep under. So instead of eliminating the problem they’ve reduced the problem…during sleep hours. Malaria’s largest number of victims are infants and children who don’t have the wherewithal to swat mosquitos away when they land on them, and since no one can live their whole life in a net, their exposure risk is high.

The book from which the religion of modern environmentalism sprang is “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson. In many ways it is the Bible of that movement. And even though it has been discredited, the “Silent Spring” model still serves as the modus operandi of the environmentalist cult. Ban first, ask questions later. That’s what they were trying to do with BPA.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Utopia…

While environmentalists have always used their favorite tactic to “discredit” contrary information, their “go-to” arrow has been stolen from their quiver in the BPA fight.

To an environmentalist, the ability to attack the motives of those questioning their statements is their best weapon. Just look at Al Gore and the global warming/climate change debate. People dependent upon government grants to continue their studies find results that A) find results that are in line with those who publicize their “studies,” and B) will justify those grants and ensure the continued “need” for more. It’s almost as though crackheads got grants to study crack smoking and they miraculously get results that require more study. But since the end result of these studies is always the government getting more power to regulate people’s lives, it’s like the government is also a crack dealer and people trying to stop the cycle are the unwanted interventionists.

This circular dynamic was blown out of the water when a new study by the crack dealer, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), found that BPA is harmless (see appendix for the WSJ article). While other large studies found the same thing, those were quickly attacked as being funded by “Big BPA” or some such nonsense. They’ve even helped expose the media bias inherent in these sorts of matters. But now the government itself has completed a large study, and duplicated the results in two separate labs , you’d think the fight would be over. It’s not.

The hardest thing to fight is dogma.

The ban bandwagon still rolls on, without even so much as a passing mention in the “news” stories about the new government findings…

(read more)


APPENDIX


Postscript to a Panic: New findings about bisphenol-A (BPA) will not redeem it.

Even by the usual standards of the environmental movement, the panic over bisphenol-A (BPA) was remarkable for its detachment from reality. A new study funded by that well-known shill for big business known as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has now debunked this scare about as comprehensively as is possible.

BPA has been in use for five decades all over the world and has been tested extensively and found to be safe. In 2008, however, green campaigners, abetted by trial lawyers in the U.S., began touting the potential for BPA to “disrupt” hormones in the human body. BPA was implicated in everything from cancer to obesity to impotence. One particularly overheated campaigner compared letting babies drink from BPA-containing baby bottles to feeding infants birth-control pills. Canada banned its use in baby bottles, and several U.S. states did the same. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein tried to get it banned in the U.S. as well, despite a clean bill of health from the FDA.

Not everyone succumbed to the panic—for a while. Studies performed in Europe before the scare had begun concluded that, if anything, BPA was safer than previously believed. But last year, despite at least two opinions by the European Food Safety Agency that BPA was safe in plastic bottles and in the liners of food containers, the European Union moved to ban it as well.

Too bad they didn’t wait for the science. The most recent study, led by Justin Teeguarden at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and published in the journal Toxicological Studies, involved feeding subjects a BPA-rich diet for 24 hours. Researchers then monitored their blood and urine for traces of the dread chemical. The result was BPA levels too low to detect—and this, remember, was from eating the stuff, a veritable worst-case scenario. Scare-mongers will no doubt point out that these results don’t preclude terrible long-term consequences from the use of BPA in packaging. But the evidence suggests that not enough of it is even present in the body to cause that kind of harm.

The results of the study, which was duplicated in two separate government labs, may not change the fate of BPA in the court of public opinion. Nor will it help the likes of Sigg Switzerland USA, the U.S. distributor of those now-ubiquitous metal drinking bottles. Sigg was initially a beneficiary of the scare as people moved to ditch their plastic drinking bottles. But once it transpired that the lining of Sigg’s aluminum bottles manufactured before August 2008 also contained trace amounts of BPA, its U.S. distributor was hit with lawsuits and a campaign of public vilification that recently sent it into bankruptcy.

Lost amid the hysteria were the benefits of BPA, including the fact that it helped to eliminate botulism in canned food. Where does a chemical go to get its reputation back?

The Media Is Ignoring This Nightclub Shooting (Video Added)

THE BLAZE reports on this incident that could have turned into a mass shooting:

Police said Jody Ray Thompson pulled out a gun during an argument in front of the Playoffz nightclub in Lyman, South Carolina, early Sunday morning and fired at a gathered crowd, hitting three people.

Spartanburg County Sheriff’s deputies told WHNS-TV Thompson almost hit a fourth person — who just so happens to be a concealed carry permit holder.

Lt. Kevin Bobo said that the man pulled out his own gun in self defense and fired back at Thompson, hitting him in the leg.

The concealed carry permit holder, who hasn’t been named, cooperated with investigators and won’t be facing any charges stemming from the 3:30 a.m. incident, WHNS reported…

Other shooting that could have turned into a “mass shooting” but didn’t because of an armed citizen are these (there are many more, but this is good enough for the point):

1. The Pearl High School Shooting

2. The Parker Middle School Dance Shooting

3. The Appalachian School of Law Shooting

4. The New Life Church Shooting

5. The Trolley Square Shooting

6. The Golden Market Shooting

7. The New York Mills AT&T Store Shooting

8. The Clackamas Town Center Shooting

9. The San Antonio Theater Shooting

Nigel Farage’s “BREXIT” Speech At European Parliament

Nigel Farage told fellow MEPs “you’re not laughing now” as he was barracked and booed at an emergency meeting of the European Parliament to discuss Brexit. The Ukip leader accused them of being “in denial” about the euro crisis, immigration and the imposition “by stealth, by deception, without ever telling the truth” of a political union.

A Left-Leaning, Pro-European Union, Activism vs. Daniel Hannan

What a joke she is… news reporter? Please.

Thank You NewsBusters! Christiane Amanpour looked so indignant throughout the “interview. Her “elitist” viewpoint was swelling up… the only problem was that Daniel Hanna had the facts, Amanpour was repeating leftist/activist talking points.

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour took her left-leaning, pro-European Union activism to a new level on Tuesday during an interview of pro-Brexit politician Daniel Hannan. Amanpour, who recently blasted the referendum as an example of “xenophobia“, tried to implicate the British member of the European Parliament as somehow partially responsible for supposed post-vote “hate crimes.” Hannan didn’t take her clear bias sitting down, however: “You guys have been shouting ‘racist’ so long, you’re not listening to what we were actually saying…if I was relying on CNNI would think that this was nativist vote, a protectionist vote. It’s the opposite.” [video below]

The anchor began her unprofessional interrogation of the Brexit supporter by accusing the guest and his allies of not having a plan after the vote: “The question is being asked, what is the plan? And we’re not hearing it from the main Brexit leaders.” Hannan answered, in part, by noting that “48 percent of British people voted for no change….And so, we may have to temper what we’re doing, and go for a more gradual and more phased repatriation of power, while leaving some of the existing stuff in place.”…

How The Reformation Changed Music

This is an interesting excerpt about the history of music and why it flourished in the West and not elsewhere… similar to science. It is a bit incomplete as he spoke a little more on Kurt Cobain prior to where I start, and after he gets into Bach and other classical artists influenced by the Bible.Vishal Mangalwadi


  • Vishal Mangalwadi, The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011), 9-15.

….Cobain’s music appealed to contemporary America because it was a full-throttled disharmony of rage, anguish, hatred, despair, meaninglessness, and obscenity. His song titles included “I Hate Myself, I Want to Die” and “Rape Me” (later changed to “Waite Me”). Most of what Cobain sang cannot be deciphered, and many of his lyrics that can be deciphered have no apparent meaning. Whether he knew it or not, his lyrics were Zen koans, counter-rational sayings such as “what is the sound of one hand clapping?” Such words do not make sense because (in the absence of revelation) reality itself makes no sense. Words are merely mantras—sounds without sense—to be chanted or shouted.

Cobain committed suicide because Nothingness as the ultimate reality does nothing positive. It cannot provide joy to the world, let alone meaning or hope for the mess in one’s life. Its only consequence is to inspire people to seek an exit from the world—Nirvana. A culture of music does not flourish in the soil of nihilism. Cobain’s gift as a musi­cian blossomed because he had inherited a unique tradition of music.

Music seems a natural, perhaps even essential, part of life to the Western mind because it has been an integral part of traditional wor­ship and education. For example, Oxford and Cambridge universities have played pivotal roles in shaping the second millennium. However, a person who has never visited these cities may not know that they are cities of churches and chapels. The chapel is the most important building in traditional colleges and a pipe organ is often the center­piece of a chapel. That is not the case in every culture.

Turkmenistan is the latest country to put restrictions on music: on state holidays, in broadcasts by television channels, at cultural events organized by the state, in places of mass assembly, and at wed­dings and celebrations organized by the public. Nations such as Saudi Arabia have had restrictions on music for a long time. In Iran and Afghanistan, women cannot sing on the radio, let alone on television or in person before mixed audiences. In post-Saddam Iraq, radical Muslims have assassinated sellers of music CDs. Mosques do not have keyboards, organs, pianos, orchestras, or worship bands because according to traditional Islam, music is haraam or illegitimate.

These cultures see Western music as inextricably mixed with immoral debauchery. For them, musicians such as Kurt Cobain are undesirable role models. Indeed, on the cover of his album Nevermind, Buddhist monks in Asia developed sophisticated philosophies, psychology, rituals, and psycho-technologies to try to escape life and its sufferings. They perfected techniques such as Vipasana* to silence not just their tongues but also their thoughts. Buddhism originated in India and prior to its disappearance enjoyed powerful political patronage for centuries. It built such massive monasteries that Buddhist art is a cherished aspect of our national heritage. Yet, Buddhism left no discernible musical tradition or instrument in India. No Buddhist monk started a band such as Nirvana, because in Buddhism salvation is not a heaven filled with music. As a pessimistic philosophy of silence it could not produce music of hope and joy. Buddhism could not celebrate existence because it saw suffering as the essence of life. Some forms of modern Buddhism have embraced music, partially because of the efforts of Western converts, such as Kurt Cobain, who grafted the Western tradition of religious music into the Buddhist faith.

To say that music is a new phenomenon in Buddhist temples is not to suggest that pre-Buddhist Tibet or China had no music. Music is intrinsic to the universe and to human nature even if some worldviews, including Darwinism, do not understand, recognize, or promote it. China’s fertility cults and sexual rites involved choirs of boys and girls singing alternately and together to symbolize Yin and Yang dualism as early as 2000 BC. A thousand years prior to that, the worshippers in Sumero-Mesapotamia used music in their temple rituals.

The musical ragas of Hindu magical rituals have survived for thirty-five hundred years. Most of the Vedas are hymns and chants. The Vedic priests understood sound as well as anyone else in the world and developed a highly complex system of chanting, even if Hindu monks and priests did not develop music into the complex medium that Western music became. Thankfully this is changing now. Bollywood has played a great role in inspiring some Hindu ashrams to develop great music. It has also raised the standard of Qawwali, which began as a part of Sufi tradition: but is now loved by Hindus as well as by Muslims—including in Pakistan.

WRITING MUSIC INTO THE WEST’S DNA

St. Augustine, the author of the six-volume On Music, was a key figure in inserting music into Western education and worldview. His first five volumes are technical and could have been written by a Greek philosopher. But Augustine was most excited about his sixth book, which gives a biblical philosophy of music. Music is, of course, inte­gral to the Bible, in which the longest book is Psalms. The last psalm, for example, asks creation to praise the Lord with the trumpet, lute, harp, tambourine, strings, pipe, and cymbals.

Why are these physical instruments able to make music? Augustine saw that the scientific basis or essence of music lies in mathematical “numbers” or scores at the core of creation. Since music is mathe­matical, Augustine argued, it must be rational, eternal, unchangeable, meaningful, and objective—it consists of mathematical harmony. We cannot make a musical sound from just any string. To get a precise note, a string has to have a specific length, thickness, and tension. This implies that the Creator has encoded music into the structure of the universe. This insight was not new. It had been noted by Pythagoras (570-490 BC), whose school Plato attended before starting his Academy.

Augustine promoted this “pagan” insight because the Bible presented a view of creation that explained why matter could make music.

Augustine taught that while this musical code is “bodily” (physi­cal), it is made and enjoyed by the soul. For example, the book of Job deals with the problem of inexplicable suffering. In it God himself tells Job of the connection between music and creation: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? . . . when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

The Bible taught that a sovereign Creator (rather than a pantheon of deities with conflicting agendas) governs the universe for his glory. He is powerful enough to save men like Job from their troubles. This teaching helped develop the Western belief of a cosmos: an orderly universe where every tension and conflict will ultimately be resolved, just as after a period of inexplicable suffering Job was greatly blessed.

This belief in the Creator as a compassionate Savior became an underlying factor of the West’s classical music and its tradition of tension and resolution. Up until the end of the nineteenth century, Western musicians shared their civilization’s assumption that the uni­verse was cosmos rather than chaos. They composed consonance and concord even when they experienced dissonance and discord. That is not to suggest that classical music did not express the full range of human emotions. It did. A bereaved composer would write a tragic piece; someone abandoned by his love would express his desolation. But such outpourings of a broken heart were understood as snapshots of real life. Given the cultural power of the biblical worldview, no one thought of them as Kurt Cobain did, as evidence of the breakdown of cosmic order or the nonexistence of order in the universe.

In the novel The Silmarillion, J. R. R. Tolkien gives us a beautiful, fictional exposition of the Augustinian perspective on the relation­ship of music, creation, the fall (evil), and redemption. Tolkien’s Middle-earth experienced much more suffering than the Buddha’s India. Tolkien’s “earth” was to be captured, corrupted, and virtually controlled by evil. Suffering was real, brutal, and awful. Yet the Bible taught Tolkien that the Almighty Creator, who was also a compas­sionate Redeemer, was loving enough and powerful enough to redeem the earth from the greatest possible mess, sin, and suffering. This helped Tolkien to celebrate creation, both in its origin as well as in its ultimate destiny:

There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Iluvatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought, and they were with him before aught else was made. And he spoke to them, propounding to them themes of music; and they sang before him, and he was glad. But for long while they sang only each alone, or but few together, while the rest hearkened; for each comprehended only part of the mind of Iluvatar from which he came, and in the understanding of their brethren they grew but slowly. Yet ever as they listened they came to deeper understanding, and increased in unison and harmony. . . .

Then Iluvatar said to them: “Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a Great Music.”

Then the voices of the Ainur, like unto harps and lutes, and pipes and trumpets, and viols and organs, and like unto countless choirs singing with words, began to fashion the theme of a great music; and a sound arose of endless interchanging melodies woven in harmony that passed beyond hearing into the depths and into the heights, and the places of the dwelling of Iluvatar were filled to overflowing, and the music and the echo of the music went out into the Void, and it was not void.

Prior to becoming a follower of Christ, Augustine had been a professor of Greek philosophy. He knew that although music was encoded into the structure of the physical universe, being finite, it could never provide ultimate meaning to life.** Therefore, he reasoned that to be meaningful, music had to be integrated into the ultimate aim of human life, which was to love God and one’s neighbors. To love one’s neighbor is to “always mind” his welfare.

Over the centuries, the influence of Augustine’s biblical philoso­phy of music kept growing. Originally, church music was dominated by monophonic plainsong, a single line of melody as in the Gregorian chant. Roman Catholic churches began to develop polyphonic music. This style, which combines several differing voice parts simultaneously, began to flourish at Notre Dame (Paris) by the eleventh century. That development in Christian worship laid the foundation for the entire spectrum of Western classical music, religious and secular.***

In the tenth century AD, Augustine’s biblical philosophy of music inspired a group of Benedictine monks to build the world’s largest pipe organ in the cathedral of Winchester, England. The organ required seventy men and twenty-six bellows to supply wind to its four hundred pipes. Technologically, the pipe organ was the world’s most advanced machine until the invention of the mechanical clock. Europe’s organs stood as emblems of the West’s unique desire and ability to use the arts, science, and technology for the glory of God as well as for the relief of humanity’s suffering and toil.

Augustine’s biblical philosophy of music was an important tribu­tary that contributed to the river of mechanical arts that began to flow out of Christian monasteries and churches. This tradition used technology to worship God and to love one’s neighbors.


* Yoga attempts to control breathing in its quest to realize self. Vipasana observes breathing as a means of silencing one’s mind to experience that there is no self or soul inside us but only Nothingness, Emptiness, Void, Shoonyta or Selflessness.

** Augustine’s intellectual mentor, Plato, believed that epistemologically no finite particular can make sense without an infinite reference point.

*** Augustine did not have much influence over the Eastern Church and that may be one reason why its music did not develop much beyond the chant.


C.S. Lewis: From Theism to Christianity

C.S. Lewis: It must be understood that my conversion at that point was only to theism pure and simple. I knew nothing yet about the incarnation. The God to whom I surrendered was sheerly non-human.

C.S. Lewis: [Reading from Chesterton] A great man knows he is not God and the greater he is, the better he knows it. The gospels declare that this mysterious maker of the world has visited his world in person. The most that any religious prophet has said was that he was the true servant of such a being. But if the creator was present in the daily life of the Roman empire, that is something unlike anything else in nature. It is the one great startling statement that man has made since he spoke his first articulate word. It makes dust and nonsense of comparative religion.

C.S. Lewis: As I drew near to Christianity, I felt a resistance almost as strong as my previous resistance to theism. As strong but shorter lived for I understood it better. But each step, one had less chance to call one’s soul one’s own.

C.S. Lewis: What Tolkien showed me was this — that if I met the idea of sacrifice in a pagan story I didn’t mind it at all — I was mysteriously moved by it. The reason was that in pagan stories I was prepared to feel the myth as profound. Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth.

C.S. Lewis: I know very well when but hardly how the final step was taken. I went with my brother to have a picnic at Whipsnade Zoo. We started in fog, but by the end of our journey the sun was shining. When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and when we reached the zoo I did. I had not exactly spent the journey in thought. Nor in great emotion. It was more like when a man, after a long sleep, becomes aware that he is now awake.

Terror Show at a Gaza Kindergarten Graduation Ceremony

Moonbattery H-T

The following is a translated report by Israel’s channel 1 news of a kindergarten graduation party held in Gaza, courtesy of the Islamic Jihad movement. This is but one of many examples showing the anti-Israel incitement and indoctrination prominent in various sections of the Palestinian public.

An Excerpt From “The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist”

Here is an excerpt from Any Banister’s wonderful new book:


  • Andy Banister, The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: Or, The dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments (Oxford, England: Monarch Books, 2015), 13-20. More of the book can be accessed here at Amazon!

I remember the first time that I saw the bus. An old friend of mine had telephoned me out of the blue a few days before, and in a conspiratorial whisper had hissed: “You need to get down to London. There are atheist buses here.”

“Atheist buses?” I replied, bleary-eyed. It was long past midnight “How much have you drunk, Tom?”

“Only four pints,” Tom replied indignantly.

“Well, I’ve always personally thought that the slightly devil-may-care attitude of many London bus drivers to road safety tends to bring people closer to God, rather than drive them away.”

“This bus didn’t try to drive me away; it tried to drive over me. Admittedly, I was lying semi-comatose in the road at the time —”

“I knew it!”

“— at Hammersmith, and the atheist bus almost ran me over.”

“You do realize”, I explained, in the patient tone I reserve for small children and airline check-in agents, “that just because a London bus almost flattens a liberal Anglican lying on a zebra crossing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Richard Dawkins is resorting to hit-and-run attempts to keep the religious affiliation statistics favourable.”

“I’m used to being nearly run over, I’ve holidayed in France many times,” snapped Tom. “But this was an atheist bus, I tell you.”

“You’re sure about this?”

“Yes! Now come down to London and see. Besides, you owe me a beer from that time when you lost the bet about the Archbishop’s beard.”

And so it was that I found myself, on a rainy July afternoon a few weeks later, standing among a crowd of damp tourists outside Oxford Circus tube station. We watched the traffic as cars, taxis, lorries, and the occasional sodden cyclist trundled past. And then, at last, a bus rounded the corner. A big, red London bus sporting a huge advertisement on the side, which announced in large friendly letters: “There’s Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying and EnjoyYour Life.”

Later, back in the comfort of a nearby pub, I did a little research. It turned out that the bus advertisements had been sponsored by The British Humanist Association along with a group of secular celebrities, including the well-known Oxford atheist Richard Dawkins, and represented, in their words, an attempt to provide a “peaceful and upbeat” message about atheism. The advertisements promoted a website where those who browsed could while away their journey on the number 137 bus to Battersea reading about the joys of life without belief in a god.

The atheist bus is a good place to begin our journey, because it illustrates two reasons why this book exists. First, because the slogan, despite its friendly pink letters, is a perfect example of a really bad argument. An argument so bad, so disastrous, in fact, that one has to wonder what its sponsors were thinking. More on that in a moment. But, second, it illustrates how quickly bad arguments can disseminate, spreading like an infestation ofJapanese knotweed into popular culture. For while many critics — including many atheist critics — were quick to point out the flaws in “There’s Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life”, it has nevertheless continued to pop up on the sides of buses not just in London but also around the world.

The bus advertisement typifies what’s come to be termed the “New Atheism”, a phrase coined back in 2006 by Wired magazine to describe the group of media-savvy atheists — men such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and the late Christopher Hitchens — whose books attacking religion in general and Christianity in particular have sold by the truckload. What’s new about the “New Atheism”? As many have pointed out, not so much its arguments, which tend to be old ones, as its tone — which is one of apoplectic anger. Why the anger? Well, I suspect partly because God was supposed to have disappeared a long time ago, as the Great Secular Enlightenment trundled inexorably onward. As far back as 1966, Time magazine could slap a question like “Is God Dead?” on the cover (with the strong implication that the answer was “Yes”). Today, however, religion is alive and well and shows little sign of disappearing. The failure of God to roll over and die on cue has led to the denial, disappointment, and anger that can be seen underpinning much of today’s more popular form of atheism.

And, my word, has the New Atheism become a popular movement Richard Dawkins’s book The God Delusion alone has sold several million copies. Atheism has gained a voice and a confidence, and that’s fine — in the past, it was tough to be an atheist, when most societies were overwhelmingly religious. Recently, however, there’s been a cultural volte-face in many Western countries, with atheism now seen as the default position. Many people assume that atheism is, indeed, the only position for somebody who wishes to be considered educated, sophisticated, urbane, and rational. This is precisely the way the media often treats the issue too: atheism is portrayed as scientific, contemporary, and for those with brains, whereas religion is characterized as stuffy, outmoded, and irrational, something for old ladies or fuddy-duddies.

But there’s a problem. Well, several problems. Chief among them is this: that much of contemporary atheism thrives on poor arguments and cheap sound bites, advancing claims that simply don’t stand up to scrutiny. Like a cheaply made cardigan, they’re full of loose threads that, if tugged firmly, quickly begin to unraveL Let me demonstrate what I mean by returning to that notorious bus advertisement, “There’s Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life”. Let’s ask a few critical questions about that claim for a moment. What’s wrong with it? Well, one might begin by noting the preachy, condescending, and hectoring tone. I’ve known many atheists over the years whose chief beef with religion has been that they can’t escape it. If it’s not televangelists with perfect teeth, it’s church billboards with dodgy graphic design or giant advertising hoardings warning of hellfire and damnation. “You religious types insist on preaching at us” is the complaint Well, now the boot is very much on the other foot and the New Atheism is zealously evangelistic, not merely content with denying deities but offering health benefits at the same time (No worries! Enjoyment! Good hair!).

But there’s a deeper problem, too. For atheists like Richard Dawkins, God does not exist, right? That, after all, is what the very term “a-theist” means. Of course, there’s a myriad of other things that don’t exist: fairies, unicorns, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, successful England soccer squads. But here’s my question: what’s the connection between the non-existence of something and any effect, emotional or otherwise? There probably aren’t any unicorns, so cheer up. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is just a secular parody, so take heart. There’s no God, so quit worrying. How, precisely, does that work? Somebody once remarked that a nonsensical statement doesn’t become coherent simply because you insert the term “God” into it, so let’s illustrate the problem by rewording the atheist bus slogan for a moment:

  • There’s Probably No Loch Ness Monster. So Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life.

Imagine, for a moment, that you’re down on your luck. Life has dealt you a series of terrible hands and nothing seems to be going your way. You’ve recently lost your job. Your wife has just left you and taken the kids with her. This very morning, a letter from your bank has arrived, declaring you bankrupt The doctor’s surgery has just rung to inform you that those worrying headaches are actually Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Oh, and you’re a Bradford City FC fan. Life really sucks. Have no fear, however. Put all that aside. Fret no more. For there is hope. There is an end to all worries. “There is?” I hear you cry, wiping back the tears. Yes, there is. Because (are you ready for this?) the Loch Ness Monster doesn’t exist. Never mind the fact that you may be jobless, loveless, penniless, and hopeless, doesn’t it warm the cockles of your heart to know that holidaymakers in Scotland can munch their sandwiches by Urquhart Castle and paddle their feet in Loch Ness, safe in the certain knowledge that no monster from the Jurassic era Will rear up from the deep and drag them off to a watery grave. So, are you feeling better now? No, probably not

So the first half of the claim — no God, no worry — fails spectacularly. The second half doesn’t fare much better either: “Enjoy your life.” What could be wrong with that, unless you’re one of those masochistic religious types who prefer guilt to glee? Well, Francis Spufford nails this one perfectly:

I’m sorry — enjoy your life? Enjoy your life? I’m not making some kind of neo-puritan objection to enjoyment Enjoyment is lovely. Enjoyment is great The more enjoyment the better. But enjoyment is one emotion. The only things in the world that are designed to elicit enjoyment and only enjoyment are products, and your life is not a product … To say that life is to be enjoyed (just enjoyed) is like saying that mountains should have only summits, or that all colours should be purple, or that all plays should be by Shakespeare. This really is a bizarre category error.

In other words, there is considerably more to life than just enjoyment Indeed, the full gamut of human emotions spans the alphabet To be fully, authentically human is to have experienced anger, boredom, compassion, delight, expectation, fear, guilt, hope, insecurity, joy, kindness, love, malice, nonchalance, obligation, peace, queasiness, relief, sensuality, thankfulness, uneasiness, vulnerability, wistfulness, yearning, and zealousness. Given all this, why does the atheist bus advertisement zero in on “enjoyment”? Now obviously I’m not privy to the interior mental state of those who penned the slogan, but I do wonder if it’s a symptom of a more general trend in our culture — one that says that the purpose of human life is simply to be happy, to flit merrily from one experience to another in an effervescence of ecstatic enjoyment Product after product is sold to us this way: buy this coffee, take that holiday, wear this shade of lip gloss, and you’ll be successful, popular, and joyful. The atheist bus is simply riding the cultural wave — think like this, it says, and you’ll be happy.

But what if you’re not happy? What if you’re like my earlier example — jobless, friendless, penniless, and hopeless? What if you’re at a point in your life where all is smelling not of roses, but rather suspiciously like a sewage farm on a hot afternoon? Indeed, half the world’s population lives on less than $2.50 a day and that amount is not going to keep you in lattes, lipstick or trips to Lanzarote, which means that, if the advertisers are correct about where enjoyment is located, you’re in trouble, so you’d better pull yourself together. I stress you, second person singular, had better pull yourself together, because, if the atheist bus slogan is right and there is no God, there’s nobody out there who is ultimately going to help with any pulling. You’re alone in a universe that cares as little about you (and your enjoyment) as it does about the fate of the amoeba, the ant or the aardvark. There’s no hope, there’s no justice, and there’s certainly nothing inherently wrong with poverty, incidentally, so quit protesting. Life favours the winners; some get the breaks, and others get the sticky end of the stick. Still others get to make millions selling books on atheism, enough fora lifetime of lattes. Enjoy your life? Nice work if you can get it.

Kimberley Strassell Interviewed by Dennis Prager

Info on the above audio:

In a wonderful interview with Kiberley Strassel, Dennis Prager asks away on some VERY important issues that we conservatives should be knowledgeable on. Namely how the Professional Left is using government to suppress political opposition to their view of life. The subject was so interesting I bought her book, “The Intimidation Game: How the Left Is Silencing Free Speech

There is a lot to listen to here, all of it is worthwhile… so settle in.

  • Her columns at The Wall Street Journal can be found here
  • You can also see her on Fox talking about her book, here
  • Follow her on Twitter.

Socialism Kills Updated ~ Matt Kibbe (Plus: Beer is Freedom)

Via Matt Kibbe:

  • What is the difference between a Democrat and a Socialist? Big-government types are constantly rebranding themselves. A “socialist” is someone who wants to see the elimination of the monetary economy, the elimination of prices, and the elimination of private property. A better name for Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and the radical left is “utopian statists.”

Beer = Freedom

Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused. Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit and abolish women? The sun, the moon, and the stars have been worshiped. Shall we then pluck them out of the sky? …see how much he [God] has been able to accomplish through me, though I did no more than pray and preach. The Word did it all. Had I wished I might have started a conflagration at Worms. But while I sat still and drank beer with Philip and Amsdorf, God dealt the papacy a mighty blow.

Martin Luther, quoted in: Drinking with Calvin and Luther – A History of Alcohol in the Church, by Jim West.

Give men time. I took three years of constant study, reflection, and discussion to arrive where I now am, and can the com­mon man, untutored in such matters, be expected to move the same distance in three months? Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused. Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit wine and abolish women? The sun, the moon, and stars have been worshiped. Shall we then pluck them out of the sky? Such haste and violence betray a lack of confidence in God. See how much he has been able to accomplish through me, though I did no more than pray and preach. The Word did it all. Had I wished I might have started a conflagration at Worms. But while I sat still and drank beer with Philip and Amsdorf, God dealt the papacy a mighty blow.

Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2013), 213.