Sunday, July 16, 2017

Why the pseudo-religious website Patheos should be really called Atheos

The Tldr (too long, didn't read): truth in advertising. Patheos (dubbed in its header as "hosting the conversation about faith") promotes itself as "the premier online destination to engage in the global dialogue about religion and spirituality," when in reality it is all about promoting atheism and anti-religious bias.

Atheos uses three tools of intellectual dishonesty to accomplish this:
  1. Postings attempt to present U.S. Protestant Evangelicals as mainstream Christianity instead of a minuscule set of U.S. sectoids made up of undereducated people who confuse memorizing Bible verses with knowledge and Christian faith. Yes, Evangelicals are a wet dream for people who like to wield straw-man arguments against Christianity; but they're not widely representative.

  2. Atheos prefers its bloggers to be either fringe people who are marginal even in their own tiny denominations, non-denominational, Unitarian (not Christian) and occasionally rabbis (to whom Christianity is, understandably, apostasy). Their pieces, time and time again, reflect a bias in favor of anything that makes adherents of Christian religion, specifically a Bible-belt caricature of Christianity, look like lunatic haters.

  3. The message is always that, if you strip the layers of (alleged or Evangelical) Christian belief, you come up empty. The truth always lies elsewhere. Some of the remembered fragments of Christianity from childhood may be comfort food for the soul — but never anything approximating truth.
You think I'm kidding. I'm not and I can show you this is what Atheos is really all about.

In fact, in an online discussion I challenged my good friend Peter Kirkwood, who thought I was being a little too harsh on the website, to come up with "an article in Atheos that has a positive faith-inspiring piece, that is not about how so-and-so (absurdly unknown evangelical pastoroid) hates gays, sex and secularism."

He came up with 7 examples. I put the links and my response to each one immediately after.

  • What I Learned in Seminary: Doubt is Overrated. Here is a minister of a marginal Protestant church (the Church of Christ has about 2 million members) admitting he doesn't have any answers and his faith does not speak to the concerns of people. Not great advertising for his church, his ministry or his faith; nor inspiring.

  • The Church Is Political, But How?. An evangelical admits that all [evangelical] "voter guides" are pro-Republican. Stop the presses! The evangelicals are a collection of miniscule churchlets (the biggest of which is the two or three Baptist groups, which are about 13 million) that have no common policy and have, by their own admission, a very narrow point of view. This is not Christianity, this is Evangelical World, an amusement park where some preachers get very rich selling "Bahbles."

  • The Strange Task of Preaching: Isaiah 55:10-13. This  can be summarized as "God is dead." However, let's pretend otherwise and keep on praying anyway so the author, a professor of preaching, can keep his day job. You don't believe, say so; don't hide behind Charlie Brown's favorite verses.

  • Rosenzweig and Weil Are Dead. At last, Diogenes, we have an honest man: a rabbi. Franz Rosenzweig and Simone Weil were two 20th century Jews who dabbled in Christianity. R became every Hillel club's the poster boy for why youthful modern Jews should not convert to Christianity; W became the poster girl who couldn't bring herself to convert for a number of neurotic reasons. (I happen to like both R and W and have read a fair share of their writings, but they are not exactly on anyone's road to Damascus.) Again, Atheos posts models of not becoming Christian.

  • Wonder Woman and Pinchas: The Persistent Appeal of Zealotry Here another rabbi, a convert from Christianity, effectively equates faith with "zealotry." He whimsically, but ineffectively in my view, taps Wonder Woman (no doubt to appeal to hipsters), then copies Richard Dawkins' argument (see my post Going to the Atheist Church) about violence in the Hebrew Bible (aka Old Testament). Thank you, Atheos, for the propaganda from someone who left Christianity (a fact omitted on the site, of course).

  • A Timeless Winning Trifecta for Every Age. I was willing to give this one a few points, but its Methodist author spends most of his time talking about being old. Eventually he wends his way to St. Paul and love, hope and faith, concluding they are worth it even for new generations (even though Boomers have it all wrong). What? Come again? Half a point for not saying anything overtly hostile to the faith; but Atheos gets subtle here: when it is a believer, make sure it is someone too distracted with himself to stay on topic.

  • Christian: You Are Upset About the Wrong Things. In the final example of uplifting faith-inspiring propaganda from Atheos, we get a Baptist, but one who left ministry to make money, citing pseudo-sociology to remind us — stop the presses, again! — that Evangelicals care more about the evils of saying "shit" than 30,000 children dying. Cleverly, the author says "Christian," not "bigots who like to think the 'Bahble' makes them right."

Peter's examples did make me aware of one thing. Atheos is really an anti-evangelical site. Of course, Evangelicals' religious illiteracy (aside from their memorized Bible verses) make them very much like the kid who walks around high school unaware that someone has taped a sign that reads "kick me" on the back of his shirt.

They are supremely mockable pseudo-Christians, whose faith derives from an originally well-intentioned movement (see from my other blog the post Awakenings). Admittedly, so are almost all of us who believe in Jesus the Christ, hope for improving and try, often failing miserably, to love.

The subtlety and disingenuous approach of Atheos, however, demonstrates malicious and malevolent intent. They should change their name and let their atheist colors fly.

    Sunday, July 02, 2017

    Happy Real Independence Day

    Cecilieaux is off for the holiday, but he left behind his now-traditional Independence Day blog post. Happy 2nd!

    Today, July 2nd, rather than July 4th, is the actual day that independence of the territories that were to become the United States from Britain was first approved. This came in the form of a resolution that attorney Richard Henry Lee, a Virginian, proposed to the Second Continental Congress.

    The brief document read:
        Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.
        That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.
        That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.

    The motion was approved by 12 of the 13 colonies. Indeed, John Adams, of Massachusetts, who seconded Lee's proposal, was so certain that a great step had been taken that he wrote to his wife Abigail:
        The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

    Now, 241 years later, the festival is held on the 4th, when the delegates approved the wordier, some would say grander, announcement of the decision by Thomas Jefferson, who composed it in the absence of Lee, who had rushed back to Virginia due to his wife's illness.

    In honor of someone born on this great day, however, let us fire off an imaginary firecracker.