Splashing around in theology.

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Location: Ottawa, Canada

I read lots. I have a cat. I drink coffee. Therefore, I am.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Matters of Ultimate Concern

No, this is not a picture of Ben Stiller!
It is Sam Harris, author of the incredibly important book, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. (2005, Norton Paperback). I recently read the thing, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in an examination of what it means (and what it could possibly cost us) to willingly suspend reason in favor of religious beliefs.
There is this one excerpt, this one portion that I cannot get out of my mind. Not only do I totally agree with what he is saying, but furthermore, I just think that the time has come for us to come to grips with several negative aspects of the religious tolerance we continue to highly value in our modern culture.
Harris has certainly made me think with more clarity upon the subject of faith.
Yes, faith is what the dear old grandmother is utilizing when she rocks in her chair and says little silent prayers regarding the well-being of her children and grandchildren.
But faith is also the following….

A man’s faith is just a subset of his beliefs about the world: beliefs about matters of ultimate concern that we, as a culture, have told him he need not justify in the present. It is time we recognized just how maladaptive this Balkanization of our discourse has become. All pretensions to theological knowledge should now be seen from the perspective of a man who was just beginning his day on the one hundredth floor of the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001, only to find his meandering thoughts – of family and friends, of errands run and unrun, of coffee in need of sweetener – inexplicably usurped by a choice of terrible starkness and simplicity; between being burned alive by jet fuel or leaping one thousand feet to the concrete below. In fact, we should take the perspective of thousands of such men, women, and children who were robbed of life, far sooner than they imagined possible, in absolute terror and confusion. The men who committed the atrocities of September 11 were certainly not “cowards,” as they were repeatedly described in the Western media, nor were they lunatics in any ordinary sense. They were men of faith – perfect faith, as it turns out – and this, it must finally be acknowledged, is a terrible thing to be.
-- Sam Harris, in The End of Faith

See my brief review of the book here.
All the best to you!


Blogger sanyavich said...

Cip we need to talk soon. i need to know about these books. You are killing me. You think you have so little time try having three kids under 7 years old

3/29/2006 5:32 PM  

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