robertogreco + atheism   64

'An oasis of calm': Quakers broadcast 30 minutes of silence | Media | The Guardian
"It’s not the most obvious subject for a podcast, but a group of young Quakers in Nottingham have recorded their 30-minute silent meeting so as to share their “oasis of calm” with the world.

In an episode of the monthly Young Quaker Podcast, called the Silence Special, you can hear a clock ticking, pages being turned and the rain falling, as the group meets and sits in silence at the Friend’s Meeting House in Nottingham.

Quakerism was founded in the 17th century by the dissenter George Fox during the years of Puritan England. The group’s meetings are characterised by silence, which is occasionally broken when someone present feels the urge to speak, say a prayer or offer a reading.

The idea for the silent podcast first came from Tim Gee, a Quaker living in London, who was inspired by the BBC’s season of “slow” radio, which treated audiences to – among other things – the sounds of birds singing, mountain climbing and monks chatting.

Gee said he had wanted to “share a small oasis of calm, and a way to provide a moment of stillness, for people on the move”.

Jessica Hubbard-Bailey, 25, from the Nottingham Young Quakers, who recorded the podcast, said they had jumped at the opportunity to broadcast something “immersive and unusual”. She added: “We have very different ways of worship to most people of faith and we thought this was a really unique opportunity to give people a little slice of what the Quakers do. Also, we are really good at being quiet because we’ve made a practice of it and I think that is of value. These days everyone is so busy, everyone is working all the time, so it’s really valuable to have the opportunity to sit down once a week and just be quiet and listen.”

Hubbard-Bailey, who was brought up as an atheist but became attracted to Quakerism for its egalitarian principles, said that the podcast had had a good reception, with nearly 400 uses of it.

“I think that makes it the biggest Quaker meeting this year technically,” she said. “I’ve had one couple say that they’ve listened to the silence episode and are going to go to a Quaker meeting for the first time this Sunday. We’ve also had some people saying ‘oh, I’m not sure about this, seems like a bit of a waste of time’. But I think that’s really indicative of how we as a society view silence and stillness.”"
quakers  silence  sound  2018  via:subtopes  religion  georgefox  slow  slowradio  radio  atheism 
april 2018 by robertogreco
OCCULTURE: 52. John Michael Greer in “The Polymath” // Druidry, Storytelling & the History of the Occult
"The best beard in occultism, John Michael Greer, is in the house. We’re talking “The Occult Book”, a collection of 100 of the most important stories and anecdotes from the history of the occult in western society. We also touch on the subject of storytelling as well as some other recent material from John, including his book “The Coelbren Alphabet: The Forgotten Oracle of the Welsh Bards” and his translation of a neat little number called “Academy of the Sword”."



"What you contemplate [too much] you imitate." [Uses the example of atheists contemplating religious fundamentalists and how the atheists begin acting like them.] "People always become what they hate. That’s why it's not good idea to wallow in hate."
2017  johnmichaelgreer  druidry  craft  druids  polymaths  autodidacts  learning  occulture  occult  ryanpeverly  celts  druidrevival  history  spirituality  thedivine  nature  belief  dogma  animism  practice  life  living  myths  mythology  stories  storytelling  wisdom  writing  howwewrite  editing  writersblock  criticism  writer'sblock  self-criticism  creativity  schools  schooling  television  tv  coelbrenalphabet  1980s  ronaldreagan  sustainability  environment  us  politics  lies  margaretthatcher  oraltradition  books  reading  howweread  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  facetime  social  socializing  cardgames  humans  human  humanism  work  labor  boredom  economics  society  suffering  misery  trapped  progress  socialmedia  computing  smarthphones  bullshitjobs  shinto  talismans  amulets  sex  christianity  religion  atheism  scientism  mainstream  counterculture  magic  materialism  enlightenment  delusion  judgement  contemplation  imitation  fundamentalism  hate  knowledge 
february 2018 by robertogreco
The Good Thief by Ian Caldwell | On Being
"I lasted two or three months on my college team before the lesson took full root: I was not the one. I stayed on the varsity squad just long enough to attend one particular team meeting, overseen by the head coach in one of the training rooms by the pool, that turned out to be a proselytizing session by a campus Christian group, Athletes in Action. At the end of it, we were asked to sign up for Bible study. We freshmen, in the spirit of compliance, agreed.

I had arrived at Princeton a confident atheist. Now, twice a week, I was visited by a former college wrestler named Brian, who came to my dorm room with Bible in hand to discuss scripture in an Evangelical framework, teasing the sense from passages in Paul and then recommending books by C.S. Lewis that would help me understand the general thrust. All of this was odious in a way I couldn’t quite put my finger on. To be mistaken for a person who would commit so deeply to something so dubious, on the basis of conversations so superficial, seemed patronizing, except that it was obviously the honest mistake of someone who happened to be such a person himself. Out of fellowship and charity, Brian was offering to me what had meant so much to him. He was capable of looking at me and seeing a younger version of himself.

This was my first taste of the loss. My demotion from student-athlete to mere student came with a great sense of abandonment. So many years, so much struggle and sacrifice: How could it now be invisible? What I had done in the swimming pool, year after year, was surely one of the most important testaments I had written about myself, and, even if it had ended, it remained a guidepost to more invisible, more abiding qualities in me. I felt angry and afraid that a fellow athlete — who must have understood what it meant to be relentless and striving, never satisfied, intent on the hard way — could think I would be persuaded by a hasty reading of a few haphazard Bible verses. I felt compelled to show him his mistake."



"It was my wife who decided the time had come for swimming lessons. The class at the rec center was for parents to stand in the shallow end and raise and lower their infants into the water. This was silly, but I agreed. In parenting a baby, as in training for a distance race, the sets and intervals are really just illusions. They create a tolerable reality out of what is really a long, undifferentiated test of will. Swimming classes are not for the drowning child. They are for the drowning parent."



"Matthew and Luke are believed to have been written around the same time, and both by the same process: weaving together the earlier Gospel of Mark with a second document that recorded Jesus’s teachings. Considering this, the differences between them seemed stark. Matthew had placed so much stress on comparing Jesus to Moses; Luke placed very little. Luke’s audience must have been Gentile, since, in addition to this lack of emphasis on Moses, Luke simplifies or has to explain his “Jewish” material, as if his readers are not familiar with it. Perhaps for this same reason, Matthew’s bitterness and frustration — the gall of abandonment felt by a Jewish Christian toward fellow Jews who refused Jesus — is much harder to find in Luke.

Instead, Luke radiates love. His theme, more than that of any other gospel, is the innate goodness of people, a subject he is able to find everywhere. Eleven of Jesus’s parables exist in no other gospel but Luke, including two of the most famous: the Good Samaritan, about the unexpected mercy of our presumed enemies; and the Prodigal Son, about a wayward young man who returns home in shame, having wasted his inheritance, only to find that his father’s love and forgiveness are bottomless. This optimism and generosity are pervasive in Luke. It is hard not to feel that, in this author, Jesus has found the ideal messenger, a man able to see past misfortunes in order to keep heartfelt faith in a radical, transformative love.

The contrast between Matthew and Luke hits hardest at the end, where Matthew’s love of Jesus, and anger at Jesus’s death, leads him to those words seemingly bereft of redemption or forgiveness: “His blood be upon us and upon our children.” Matthew does not even change the devastating final words of Jesus on the cross, as reported by the Gospel of Mark: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Rather, it is Luke who changes them. And it is in Luke’s improbable version of the crucifixion that I see Jesus most vividly: as the hero of mercy and embodiment of love; as the man intent on seeing the goodness in us even when we give him no reason.

I see, also, Luke himself: his own mercy and love, his capacity to overlook the horror Matthew could not. As Jesus dies on the cross, crucified with two thieves, Luke adds a final story found in no other gospel:
“Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.’ The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, ‘Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus replied to him, ‘Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.'”

Today I have three sons. The oldest are nine and seven. They are competitive swimmers.

At one of their practices, I recently discovered a group of adults training in the adjacent lane. So I bought a new suit and joined them. For the first time in two decades, I have a practice group.

These days I swim side by side with my boys, separated only by a lane rope. When the old feeling returns, that the pool is infinite and the lap endless, I peer through the murk of the next lane and I wait for a glimpse of them.

How hard they work for every yard. How desperately they want air but force themselves not to breathe. Every once in a while, they catch me watching. And when they do, they try to keep up. Their arms spin faster, their kicks start to beat the water white. Unconsciously, as if they have inherited this instinct, they veer over toward the lane rope between us. They draft off me.

The final words of Jesus on the cross, according to the Gospel of Luke, are: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” I push forward. Stroke on stroke, I try to part the water."
iancaldwell  swimming  srg  edg  education  bible  hypoxictraining  parenting  2017  abandonment  atheism 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Frans de Waal: The Bonobo and the Atheist | Chicago Humanities Festival
"Frans de Waal, recognized for his expertise on primate behavior and social intelligence, has produced some of his field’s most influential research. Having observed chimpanzees soothe distressed neighbors and bonobos share their food, he is convinced that the seeds of ethical behavior are found in primate societies. The translation to humans—their closest living relatives—is a natural step: are we by nature selfish and aggressive, or cooperative and peace-loving, and how have these traits evolved? Join him for a far-ranging exploration of the origins of morality."
fransdewaal  morality  religion  science  ethics  behavior  2015  via:anne  primates  animals  charlesdarwin  bonobos  conflictresolution  chimpanzees  darwin  reconciliation  cats  domesticcats  mammals  emotions  social  empathy  atheism  multispecies 
may 2015 by robertogreco
What scares the new atheists | John Gray | World news | The Guardian
"The vocal fervour of today’s missionary atheism conceals a panic that religion is not only refusing to decline – but in fact flourishing"



"Above all, these unevangelical atheists accepted that religion is definitively human. Though not all human beings may attach great importance to them, every society contains practices that are recognisably religious. Why should religion be universal in this way? For atheist missionaries this is a decidedly awkward question. Invariably they claim to be followers of Darwin. Yet they never ask what evolutionary function this species-wide phenomenon serves. There is an irresolvable contradiction between viewing religion naturalistically – as a human adaptation to living in the world – and condemning it as a tissue of error and illusion. What if the upshot of scientific inquiry is that a need for illusion is built into in the human mind? If religions are natural for humans and give value to their lives, why spend your life trying to persuade others to give them up?

The answer that will be given is that religion is implicated in many human evils. Of course this is true. Among other things, Christianity brought with it a type of sexual repression unknown in pagan times. Other religions have their own distinctive flaws. But the fault is not with religion, any more than science is to blame for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or medicine and psychology for the refinement of techniques of torture. The fault is in the intractable human animal. Like religion at its worst, contemporary atheism feeds the fantasy that human life can be remade by a conversion experience – in this case, conversion to unbelief.

Evangelical atheists at the present time are missionaries for their own values. If an earlier generation promoted the racial prejudices of their time as scientific truths, ours aims to give the illusions of contemporary liberalism a similar basis in science. It’s possible to envision different varieties of atheism developing – atheisms more like those of Freud, which didn’t replace God with a flattering image of humanity. But atheisms of this kind are unlikely to be popular. More than anything else, our unbelievers seek relief from the panic that grips them when they realise their values are rejected by much of humankind. What today’s freethinkers want is freedom from doubt, and the prevailing version of atheism is well suited to give it to them."
johngray  atheism  culture  2015  via:anne  religion  belief  values  liberalism  christianity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Jeet Heer and the New Atheism
"Jeet Heer has been saying really smart things: read his evaluation of The New Republic‘s legacy, for example (which follows on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ evaluation). He’s an interesting and thoughtful writer.

So I wondered where he stood on atheism and religion, and went looking. Here he is in a conversation on bloggingheads, and the first part is on the New Atheism. It did make me think. I’ve long identified as a New Atheist — the outspoken aggressive part, naturally — but what he points out is that the New Atheism is now associated with a rather regressive approach. This is an important point (around 5:10 in the video):
I don’t see the point of having an atheism that is pro-status quo, pro-imperialist, and which is indifferent to issues of inequality and patriarchy. If you’re going to have that, you might as well go to church.


That the New Atheism has already become part of a doctrinaire, anti-social justice attitude is troubling, but I think it was there from the beginning. The Thinky Atheist Leaders who carved out this niche clearly didn’t think those issues were important — even while some of us who happily jumped on the New Atheist bandwagon thought they were, and were simply oblivious to the indifference of the horsemen who were galloping into the fray. Now some of us who were trotting along with the rest of the cavalry are drawing back on the reins and wondering where we’re being led, and whether this is the right course to be taking, and whether the guys leading the charge are even attacking in the right direction.

It’s very uncomfortable. Maybe I’m a New Atheist in some ways, but not in other ways, and maybe I need a new banner to rally under, or maybe we need to just let the leadership blunder into the cannons while the rest of us regroup and refocus. Maybe, rather than a frontal assault on the distant enemy, we ought to clean up the bad guys on the Patriarchy Heights to the left of us, and the Racism Heights on the right.

It’s a tough place to be, sacrificing all that momentum while we mill about and try to figure out a rational approach. But that’s what atheists should do: think."
jeetheer  atheism  newatheism  2015  religion  imperialism  inequality  patriarchy 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 198, Marilynne Robinson
"ROBINSON
I don’t like categories like religious and not religious. As soon as religion draws a line around itself it becomes falsified. It seems to me that anything that is written compassionately and perceptively probably satisfies every definition of religious whether a writer intends it to be religious or not."



"INTERVIEWER
Ames says that in our everyday world there is “more beauty than our eyes can bear.” He’s living in America in the late 1950s. Would he say that today?

ROBINSON
You have to have a certain detachment in order to see beauty for yourself rather than something that has been put in quotation marks to be understood as “beauty.” Think about Dutch painting, where sunlight is falling on a basin of water and a woman is standing there in the clothes that she would wear when she wakes up in the morning—that beauty is a casual glimpse of something very ordinary. Or a painting like Rembrandt’s Carcass of Beef, where a simple piece of meat caught his eye because there was something mysterious about it. You also get that in Edward Hopper: Look at the sunlight! or Look at the human being! These are instances of genius. Cultures cherish artists because they are people who can say, Look at that. And it’s not Versailles. It’s a brick wall with a ray of sunlight falling on it.

At the same time, there has always been a basic human tendency toward a dubious notion of beauty. Think about cultures that rarify themselves into courts in which people paint themselves with lead paint and get dumber by the day, or women have ribs removed to have their waists cinched tighter. There’s no question that we have our versions of that now. The most destructive thing we can do is act as though this is some sign of cultural, spiritual decay rather than humans just acting human, which is what we’re doing most of the time.

INTERVIEWER
Ames believes that one of the benefits of religion is “it helps you concentrate. It gives you a good basic sense of what is being asked of you and also what you might as well ignore.” Is this something that your faith and religious practice has done for you?

ROBINSON
Religion is a framing mechanism. It is a language of orientation that presents itself as a series of questions. It talks about the arc of life and the quality of experience in ways that I’ve found fruitful to think about. Religion has been profoundly effective in enlarging human imagination and expression. It’s only very recently that you couldn’t see how the high arts are intimately connected to religion.

INTERVIEWER
Is this frame of religion something we’ve lost?

ROBINSON
There was a time when people felt as if structure in most forms were a constraint and they attacked it, which in a culture is like an autoimmune problem: the organism is not allowing itself the conditions of its own existence. We’re cultural creatures and meaning doesn’t simply generate itself out of thin air; it’s sustained by a cultural framework. It’s like deciding how much more interesting it would be if you had no skeleton: you could just slide under the door.

INTERVIEWER
How does science fit into this framework?

ROBINSON
I read as much as I can of contemporary cosmology because reality itself is profoundly mysterious. Quantum theory and classical physics, for instance, are both lovely within their own limits and yet at present they cannot be reconciled with each other. If different systems don’t merge in a comprehensible way, that’s a flaw in our comprehension and not a flaw in one system or the other.

INTERVIEWER
Are religion and science simply two systems that don’t merge?

ROBINSON
The debate seems to be between a naive understanding of religion and a naive understanding of science. When people try to debunk religion, it seems to me they are referring to an eighteenth-century notion of what science is. I’m talking about Richard Dawkins here, who has a status that I can’t quite understand. He acts as if the physical world that is manifest to us describes reality exhaustively. On the other side, many of the people who articulate and form religious expression have not acted in good faith. The us-versus-them mentality is a terrible corruption of the whole culture.

INTERVIEWER
You’ve written critically about Dawkins and the other New Atheists. Is it their disdain for religion and championing of pure science that troubles you?

ROBINSON
No, I read as much pure science as I can take in. It’s a fact that their thinking does not feel scientific. The whole excitement of science is that it’s always pushing toward the discovery of something that it cannot account for or did not anticipate. The New Atheist types, like Dawkins, act as if science had revealed the world as a closed system. That simply is not what contemporary science is about. A lot of scientists are atheists, but they don’t talk about reality in the same way that Dawkins does. And they would not assume that there is a simple-as-that kind of response to everything in question. Certainly not on the grounds of anything that science has discovered in the last hundred years.

The science that I prefer tends toward cosmology, theories of quantum reality, things that are finer-textured than classical physics in terms of their powers of description. Science is amazing. On a mote of celestial dust, we have figured out how to look to the edge of our universe. I feel instructed by everything I have read. Science has a lot of the satisfactions for me that good theology has.

INTERVIEWER
But doesn’t science address an objective notion of reality while religion addresses how we conceive of ourselves?

ROBINSON
As an achievement, science is itself a spectacular argument for the singularity of human beings among all things that exist. It has a prestige that comes with unambiguous changes in people’s experience—space travel, immunizations. It has an authority that’s based on its demonstrable power. But in discussions of human beings it tends to compare downwards: we’re intelligent because hyenas are intelligent and we just took a few more leaps.

The first obligation of religion is to maintain the sense of the value of human beings. If you had to summarize the Old Testament, the summary would be: stop doing this to yourselves. But it is not in our nature to stop harming ourselves. We don’t behave consistently with our own dignity or with the dignity of other people. The Bible reiterates this endlessly.

INTERVIEWER
Did you ever have a religious awakening?

ROBINSON
No, a mystical experience would be wasted on me. Ordinary things have always seemed numinous to me. One Calvinist notion deeply implanted in me is that there are two sides to your encounter with the world. You don’t simply perceive something that is statically present, but in fact there is a visionary quality to all experience. It means something because it is addressed to you. This is the individualism that you find in Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. You can draw from perception the same way a mystic would draw from a vision.

INTERVIEWER
How would one learn to see ordinary things this way?

ROBINSON
It’s not an acquired skill. It’s a skill that we’re born with that we lose. We learn not to do it."



"INTERVIEWER
Does your faith ever conflict with your “regular life”?

ROBINSON
When I’m teaching, sometimes issues come up. I might read a scene in a student’s story that seems—by my standards—pornographic. I don’t believe in exploiting or treating with disrespect even an imagined person. But at the same time, I realize that I can’t universalize my standards. In instances like that, I feel I have to hold my religious reaction at bay. It is important to let people live out their experience of the world without censorious interference, except in very extreme cases."



"INTERVIEWER
Most people know you as a novelist, but you spend a lot of your time writing nonfiction. What led you to start writing essays?

ROBINSON
To change my own mind. I try to create a new vocabulary or terrain for myself, so that I open out—I always think of the Dutch claiming land from the sea—or open up something that would have been closed to me before. That’s the point and the pleasure of it. I continuously scrutinize my own thinking. I write something and think, How do I know that that’s true? If I wrote what I thought I knew from the outset, then I wouldn’t be learning anything new.

In this culture, essays are often written for the sake of writing the essay. Someone finds a quibble of potential interest and quibbles about it. This doesn’t mean the writer isn’t capable of doing something of greater interest, but we generate a lot of prose that’s not vital. The best essays come from the moment in which people really need to work something out."



"ROBINSON
People are frightened of themselves. It’s like Freud saying that the best thing is to have no sensation at all, as if we’re supposed to live painlessly and unconsciously in the world. I have a much different view. The ancients are right: the dear old human experience is a singular, difficult, shadowed, brilliant experience that does not resolve into being comfortable in the world. The valley of the shadow is part of that, and you are depriving yourself if you do not experience what humankind has experienced, including doubt and sorrow. We experience pain and difficulty as failure instead of saying, I will pass through this, everyone I have ever admired has passed through this, music has come out of this, literature has come out of it. We should think of our humanity as a privilege."



"ROBINSON
Faith always sounds like an act of will. Frankly, I don’t know what faith in God means. For me, the experience is much more a sense of God. Nothing could be more miraculous than the fact that we have a consciousness that makes the world intelligible to us and are moved by what is beautiful."
marilynnerobinson  religion  sarahfay  2008  science  structure  atheism  belief  christianity  richarddawkins  newatheists  ordinary  everyday  perception  vision  seeing  noticing  observing  dignity  grace  faith  standards  mindchanging  openmindedness  thinking  writing  howwewrite  humanism  interviews  beauty  ordinariness  mindchanges 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Some thoughts on faith, pain, anger, communalism, and the Juice. (with tweets) · sahelidatta · Storify
"As a person who believes in God and values my faith, it greatly pains me how much identification with faith seems to enable communal violence and hatred rather decrease it, and seems *not* to inspire the kind of compassion, humility, and love I expect. Some thoughts, spontaneously tweeted.

I believe in God & take my faith (Gaudiya Vaishnavism) fairly seriously, often use phrase 'the juice' to describe sense of connection to God

My continuous loyalty to *my* brand of faith reflects my experience that it's juiciest for *me* yet have found juice in others' faiths too.

Often feel the complementary flavors in juice received from time spent w/ other faiths (association, scripture) deepens my love of my own

Moreover, I have even received juice in company of avowed Atheists. Truthfulness of their honesty about not tasting it often moves me.

In moments of deep sincerity, an Atheist striving for compassion, affection, humility, wonder, or service can make *me* feel closer to God

Humbled before their strength or energy or will power, and goodness, I feel grateful to them for juice & use it to pray to learn from them

If they = someone I care for, I also pray to God that one day, in this lifetime or another, *if* they want it, they can taste juice too.

I've gotten juice from association and words of faithful in many faiths--most Abrahamic branches, other Hindus, Buddhists, Shinto, Native Am

Pretty much the only one that has consistently failed to do much for me at all is Scientology. Sorry, that's just the truth.

Striking thing about anger & pride & glee of militant/nationalist/ethnocentric/doxicentric types, regardless of faith: NO JUICE

sadness on behalf of one's community and true pain about misunderstanding or mockery or attack of one's vision of God, that can have juice

But communalism and hatred -- the juice gets all dried up. it's gone, like it was never there. Often, I think it never was.

I feel my ability to taste juice is causeless gift from God, unearned, undeserved, can be taken away, especially if I choose not to want it

Whether or not I taste it in someone else's company is not a sign to me that I have understood them and can accurately judge them

But *is* a sign to me that spending time w/ them will not bring *me* closer to God, for whatever reason:perhaps a tautology, perhaps His msg

So I say this not to rag on others, but out of a troubled reflection on my now decades of cumulative experience.

Intellectual & rational & secularly-political opinions aside, my own selfish desire for Juice = huge reason I distrust religious chauvinists

Appeal to myself & anyone who groks Juice of "connecting to God" & who's angry&hurt about attack on their community or faith: ok to be upset

But in acting on our anger & pain, in using it as a tool, may we always be vigilant that it keeps us closer to God and not our worse selves.

When our identity contains labels at least superficially tied to God, too easy to serve our worst self,so identified, & pretend we serve God

When wondering if I'm really feeling close to God(vs. gratifying my ego's self-identification as someone who feels close to God) I try this:

I meditate on my belief that God has deep love for everyone, including others very different from me, with concrete examples.

"He is full in all respects, still He feels pangs of separation for every one of us, however small we may be." - my mom's Guru

"the Lord’s heart is not an ordinary heart...In spite of His supreme position, He has room for us in a corner of His loving heart."Mom'sGuru

Then I ask myself, "is *that* Lord really be pleased with me now?" if answer = no way! time to step back & reflect.

But I'm actually terrible aspiring searcher for God, & too rarely do this, never w/ enough diligence or strength. Must try more. The end.:-)



I don't know if these thoughts are useful to anyone but me, but I felt compelled to think about them and express them, and twitter helped me be careful and slow and do it in small and even chunks, and I am grateful it helped me do so, and that Storify gives me a place to keep them all together and return to them if I need to. Hope I didn't drive away too many of my followers. :-)

In case anyone is interested, my beloved late mother's beloved Gurudev was Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Maharaj, a disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, and a celebrated monk, scholar, poet, preacher and teacher in the Gaudiya Vaishnav line of Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu which is my faith of choice, both as my family inheritance and my own frequently and deliberately renewed choice. His book Loving Search for the Lost Servant is very important to me and the source of those quotes. "
sahelidatta  2014  storify  twitter  faith  pain  anger  communalism  juice  belief  compassion  affection  humility  wonder  service  religion  god  hatred  hate  willpower  goodness  atheism  respect  love 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Education Rethink @edrethink: Lost and Found
"I lost my faith.

Lost is the right word. I know that other people speak of the process as if they tossed it aside. However, that's not how it happened to me. My faith sort-of evaporated for me. It was so slow I didn't see it happening. The moments were tiny and never felt significant at the time.

I think it started when I was holding a newborn and loving the child so much that I couldn't fathom sending anyone I love to a place like Hell. I just couldn't see a loving God doing this. Then there was the longterm effects of studying science and realizing that I couldn't justify the seven day literalist creation. It didn't help when I met really good atheists whose lives were not the mess that I was told they would be. Add to this all my gay friends who, I was sure, were created that way and I was starting to rethink everything I was taught.

It was more than that, though. I remember praying to a God who would never answer back and knowing that trying to "look" for an answer felt about as silly as reading tea leaves or jumping across the carcass of a goat. At least the Magic 8 Ball answered backI continued to pray and to read my Bible and to go through the motions, but it felt . . . gone. That assurance that I had felt before, that sense that I had the answers, was gone. Totally gone.

I hit a point where I couldn't justify it anymore. I wasn't an atheist. I wasn't anti-Christian. The truth is that I was agnostic. I didn't have the answers anymore. More than anything else, I missed my faith. I missed believing that God was present. I missed having an answer instead of waiting in agnosticism, unsure about what's real or true.

I'm not sure how long this period lasted. I just knew that it evaporated. I wasn't depressed about it. I wasn't hopeless. Unlike all the warnings about "backsliders" I didn't go on a crazy sin binge. The truth is that it felt lighter. I felt, for the first time ever, like I had the freedom to go explore.

Then it happened. There were little moments that caused me to reconsider my agnosticism. It started with realizing that, to my core, I believe that there is a spark of the divine in people and that they are inherently valuable and that they are also totally broken. I couldn't shed what I believed about humanity. It was the only story that still made sense.

Then there were all the times when I read fiction with the hopes of escaping what I believed only to be drawn toward the stories of redemption and the battle between good and evil. It hit me that the ultimate archetype that I was drawn toward was the Jesus story. I'm sure he didn't intend it this way, but The Ocean at the End of the Lane drew me back toward my belief that God is a loving parent.

I remember re-reading the Bible with open eyes and realizing that there were things that it wasn't quite so clear about (including Hell). I kept finding myself being drawn to those stories, even when I wasn't sure how historically accurate it was.

Somewhere in the midst of it, I remember reading about the Pope and being drawn toward him and thinking, "If you like the current Pope, you'd probably be crazy about Jesus." I found myself quoting scripture in moments of crisis and realizing that it wasn't a crutch so much as a part of me that I couldn't shed. It was true. I was a new creation and the old was gone and I had changed and even though I didn't have all the answers, I was still crazy about Jesus.

So, I came back. To what, exactly, I wasn't sure. I just knew that the Jesus story was the greatest story ever told and that even if it felt crazy, I wanted it to be true. Maybe that's what hope meant. Maybe it wasn't about being absolutely sure that your belief is true, but rather holding onto the story, continuing to be drawn to it even when it sounds too good to be true.

Looking back on it, I don't think I lost my faith. I think I grew out of it. I don't think it evaporated on me, so much as it slipped away from me. My conservative evangelical background became the skin that I stepped out of like a snake. I realize now that I never left the faith. It's just that it evolved on me when I wasn't paying attention.

I know that some would say that I'm not a "real" Christian anymore (what with my doubt about Hell and my belief in universal grace). However, grace is the only thing that makes sense. Redemption is the only story that works. I may not be a "real" Christian anymore, but I don't care. I'm banking on the hope that God is crazy about us and wants to spend forever with us. If that makes me a heretic, I'm okay with that."
johnspencer  religion  faith  belief  evolution  2014  christianity  christians  freedom  jesus  atheism  agnosticism 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Morals Without God? - NYTimes.com
"Over the past few years, we have gotten used to a strident atheism arguing that God is not great (Christopher Hitchens) or a delusion (Richard Dawkins). The new atheists call themselves “brights,” thus hinting that believers are not so bright. They urge trust in science, and want to root ethics in a naturalistic worldview.

While I do consider religious institutions and their representatives — popes, bishops, mega-preachers, ayatollahs, and rabbis — fair game for criticism, what good could come from insulting individuals who find value in religion? And more pertinently, what alternative does science have to offer? Science is not in the business of spelling out the meaning of life and even less in telling us how to live our lives. We, scientists, are good at finding out why things are the way they are, or how things work, and I do believe that biology can help us understand what kind of animals we are and why our morality looks the way it does. But to go from there to offering moral guidance seems a stretch.

Even the staunchest atheist growing up in Western society cannot avoid having absorbed the basic tenets of Christian morality. Our societies are steeped in it: everything we have accomplished over the centuries, even science, developed either hand in hand with or in opposition to religion, but never separately. It is impossible to know what morality would look like without religion. It would require a visit to a human culture that is not now and never was religious. That such cultures do not exist should give us pause."

[See also: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mind-reviews-bonobo-and-atheist/ ]
animals  atheism  ethics  philosophy  religion  belief  fransdewaal  via:anne  sciene  evolution  morality  primates  relationships  giving  brain  denbosch  hieronymusbosch  life  living  darwin  altruism  empathy  pleasure  charity  inequity  inequityaversion  dogs  2010  charlesdarwin 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Richard Rodriguez: “New Atheism has a distinctly neo-colonial aspect”
"Provocative thinker Richard Rodriguez challenges orthodoxy on religion, liberals and class, Pope Francis and more"



"My qualm, right now, with the political left is that it is so taken over by sexual issues, sexual questions, that we have forgotten the traditional concern of the left was always social class and those at the bottom. And now we’re faced with a pope who is compassionate towards the poor and we want to know his position on abortion. It seems to me that at one point when Pope Francis said, “You know the church has been too preoccupied with those issues, gay marriage and abortion…” at some level the secular left has been too preoccupied with those issues."

Q: You’re saying that the church — it’s not exactly Catholics, it’s the church itself, the Vatican — has been obsessed with these questions at the same time the Anglo-American cultural left has been obsessed with these as well. To the exclusion of other important issues?

Yes, particularly the very poor. And it seems to me what the pope doesn’t say when he says we’ve been too preoccupied with these issues is: why? And that is what really interests me in my description of the relationship of heterosexual women in my life. I think that the problem with women controlling their reproduction and gay men getting married is that we’re not generative, as the Vatican would judge us. And that’s a deep violation of the desert. It’s the whole point of the desert religions, to give birth, you know. And when women are not doing that, or women are choosing to control the process, or men are marrying each other outside the process of birth, then that’s the problem.



"I think that increasingly the left has conceded organized religion to the political right. This has been a catastrophe on the left.

I’m old enough to remember the black Civil Rights movement, which was as I understood it a movement of the left and insofar as it was challenging the orthodoxy of conservatives in the American South. White conservatism. And here was a group of protestant ministers leading processions, which were really religious processions through the small towns and the suburbs of the South. We shall overcome. Well, we have forgotten just how disruptive religion can be to the status quo. How challenging it is to the status quo. I also talk about Cesar Chavez, who is, who was embraced by the political left in his time but he was obviously a challenge to organized labor, the teamsters and to large farmers in the central valley.

So somehow we had decided on the left that religion belongs to Fox Television, or it belongs to some kind of right-wing fanaticism in the Middle East and we have given it up, and it has made us a really empty — that is, it has made the left really empty. I’ll point to one easy instance. Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. And what America heard was really a sermon. It was as though slavery and Jim Crow could not be described as a simple political narrative; racism was a moral offense, not simply an illegality. And with his vision of a time “when all of God’s children” in America would be free, he described the nation within a religious parable of redemption.

Fifty years later, our technocratic, secular president gave a speech at the Lincoln memorial, honoring the memory of the speech Dr. King had given. And nothing President Obama said can we remember these few weeks later; his words were dwarfed by our memory of the soaring religious oratory of fifty years ago. And what’s happened to us — and I would include myself in the cultural left — what has happened to us is we have almost no language to talk about the dream life of America, to talk about the soul of America, to talk about the mystery of being alive at this point in our lives, this point in our national history. That’s what we’ve lost in giving it to Fox Television.



Q:Where do you find yourself very conservative these days?

I would say even on an issue like affirmative action, for example, I haven’t changed. I think that the hijacking of the integrationists’ dream as it announced itself in the North, where racism was not legalized but it was de facto, the hijacking of that movement to integrate Northern institutions by the middle class and to make middle class ascendancy somehow an advance for the entire population — I think was grotesque. And so you ended up with a black and brown bourgeoisie and you did nothing with those at the bottom, and you also managed to ignore white poverty. What the left has forgotten or ignored is that it is possible to be white and poor in America. The solution to de facto segregation in the late 1960s, as the black Civil Rights movement turned north, was an affirmative action that ignored white poverty altogether. And to make matters worse, Hispanics were named with blacks as the other principal excluded society in America. Conveniently ignored by the liberal agenda was the fact that Hispanics are not a racial group and therefore cannot suffer “racism” as Hispanics. And to turn misunderstanding into a kind of cartoon revolution, it became possible for, say, a white Cuban to be accepted to Yale as a “minority,” but a white kid from Appalachia would never be a minority because, after all, whites were numerically represented in societies of power.



And totally ignores the reality or the fantastic contradictions of the word or concept of Hispanic/Latino. We are posing ourselves as a racial group when in fact we are an ethnic group. The left has no idea. The left says nothing about the obliviousness of our political process to poor whites. The fact that the Civil Rights movement managed to ignore white poverty was the beginning of the end of the Democratic party in the old South. The white poor began to turn to the Republican party, which is where it is now."

[via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/71039097451/you-know-one-of-the-things-about-that-piece-that-i ]
richardrodriguez  atheism  newatheism  catholicism  2013  via:ayjay  religion  politics  conservatism  liberalism  popefrancis  bilingualeducation  civilrights  affirmativeaction  class  society  nature  desert  homophobia  culture  jerryfaldwell  poor  race  ethnicity 
december 2013 by robertogreco
I'm an atheist so why am I a committed Quaker? – Nat Case – Aeon
"I contradict myself. I am an atheist and committed Quaker. Does it matter what I believe, when I recognise that religion is something I need?"



"If you are really going to be part of a community, just showing up for the main meal is not enough: you need to help cook and clean up. So it has been with me and the Quakers: I’m concerned with how my community works, and so I’ve served on committees (Quakerism is all about committees). There’s pastoral care to accomplish, a building to maintain, First-Day School (Quakerese for Sunday School) to organise. And there’s the matter of how we as a religious community will bring our witness into the world. Perhaps this language sounds odd coming from a non-theist, but as I hope I’ve shown, I’m not a non-theist first. I’ve been involved in prison visiting, and have been struck at the variety of religious attitudes among volunteers: some for whom the visiting is in itself ministry, and others for whom it’s simply social action towards justice (the programme grew out of visiting conscientious objectors in the Vietnam era). The point is: theological differences are not necessarily an issue when there’s work to be done."



"How can we do that? How can I do that? Submitting to something I am pretty sure doesn’t exist? How can I bow down to a fiction? I did it all the time as a child. Open the cover of the book, and I’m in that world. If I’m lucky, and the book is good enough, some of that world comes with me out into the world of atoms and weather, taxes and death. It’s a story, and sometimes stories are stronger than stuff.

Maybe part of the trick is realising that it doesn’t have to be just my little bubble of fiction. I can read a novel, or I can go gaming into the evening with friends. I can watch a ballet on a darkened stage, or I can roar along to my favourite band in the mosh pit. I hated school dances with a passion, yet I have been a morris dancer for 23 years now: I just had to find the form that was a right fit. I don’t pray aloud, or with prescribed formulas. But I can ask Whatever-There-Is a question, or ask for help from the universe, or say thank you. And now that I’m in a place with a better fit, sometimes I get answers back. And so there I am, a confirmed skeptic, praying in a congregation."



"A year and a half ago, our family began worshipping with a smaller Conservative Friends group. Conservative Friends are socially and theologically liberal but stricter in adhering to older Quaker practices. The group uses the Montessori-based Godly Play curriculum for the children: it’s all about stories. Every session begins with a quieting and a focusing. The leader tells a story from the Bible or from the Quaker story book. Then ‘wondering’ questions are asked that spur the children to reflect on what’s going on, and what they would do in the same situation.

I wish I’d had this great programme as a child. The teacher is a good storyteller who clearly loves the kids, and they love the stories and the time with their friends. To me, it’s such an improvement on school-style lessons. It says: this is a different kind of knowing and learning — this is not about facts and theories you need to learn, but about the stories we want to become part of your life.

I love facts and theories, the stuff of the world. I spend most of my life wrestling and dancing with all this amazing matter. As the Australian comic Tim Minchin says in his rant-poem ‘Storm’ (2008): ‘Isn’t this enough? Just this world? Just this beautiful, complex, wonderfully unfathomable world?’ And yes, it’s enough. We don’t need to tell lies about the real world in order to make it magical. But we do still need impossible magic for our own irrational selves. At any rate, I do.

Because I don’t feel stuff-and-logic-based explanations deep down in my toes. There are no miracle stories of flying children there, or brothers reborn into the land where the sagas come from. The language of ‘stuff is all there is’ tells me that I can — even ought to — be rational and sensible, but it doesn’t make me want to be. ‘Atheism’ tells me what I am not, and I yearn to know what I am. What I am has a spine, it’s a thing I must be true to, because otherwise it evaporates into the air, dirt and water of the hard world.

Maybe I — we — need to start small, rebuilding gods that we talk to, and who talk back. Or just one whom we can plausibly imagine, our invisible friend. Maybe part of our problem is that we don’t actually want to talk to the voice of Everything, because Everything has gotten so unfathomably huge. George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, didn’t have to think about light years, let alone billions of light years. The stars now are too far away to be our friends or speak to us in our need. Maybe we could talk to a god whom we imagined in our house. Maybe we could ask what is wanted, and hear what is needed. Maybe that god would tell us not to tramp over the earth in armies, pretending we are bigger than we are, and that dying is OK, because it’s just something that happens when your life is over. Maybe we would ask for help and comfort from unexpected places, and often enough receive it and be thankful for it.

Maybe we need to name that little god something other than God, because maybe our God has a boss who has a boss whose boss runs the universe. Maybe we name this god Ethel, or Larry, or Murgatroyd. Maybe there is no god but God... or maybe there just is no God. And maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe we just tell stories that ring true to us and say up-front that we know they are fiction. We can let people love these stories or hate them. Maybe imagining impossible things — such as flying, the land where sagas come from, God — is what is needed. Maybe we don’t need the gods to be real. Maybe all we need is to trust more leaps of the imagination."
philosophy  quakers  atheism  2013  natcase  religion  belief  literature  fiction  skepticism  stories  storytelling  listening  learning  life  magic  wonder  truth  logic  trust  imagination  community  committees  myth  myths  josephcampbell  robert  barclay  via:jenlowe  everyday  quaker 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Soulellis - Eco and Boff—a riff.
"Leonardo Boff: The dead is only invisible, not absent. [http://twitter.com/leonardoboff_/status/195369054926675969 ] There is a great spiritual void in humankind. A good theologian has to go through the temptation of atheism. What would happen to sailors and astronauts without the stars to guide them and give them courage for the journey? I live in utopia, like stars…we never reach the stars, but what would happen to our nights if they didn’t have stars? Paulo Freire, who was also one of the founders of liberation theology, noted that the poor must be the agent of his/her own liberation. We don’t want a theology of development; we want a theology of liberation. A good theologian has to go through the temptation of atheism. The challenge will be to learn to divide the few resources we’ll have fairly, so this community of peoples will have enough to survive. One day we’ll all be socialists, not because of ideology, but because of statistics…we do not have another earth, ours is a small planet with limited resources. To live together with all our differences in a ‘communal house’ with scarce resources, for that’s all we will have. One day we will have an earthly democracy, a planetary democracy where human beings will have to learn to survive together. Humankind is headed for great suffering, one that will cause us to change and learn… As Hegel argues, ‘we learn from history that we do not learn from history;’ and I say that we learn not from history but from suffering…

Umberto Eco: I do not want to draw a hard and fast line between those who believe in a transcendent God and those who do not believe in any supra-individual principle. [http://twitter.com/umbertoeco_/status/195953965035302912 ] Remember, Spinoza’s great book was called Ethics and opened with a definition of God as cause of Itself. This Spinozian divinity, as we well know, is neither transcendent nor personal; and yet even from the idea of a great and unique cosmic Substance into which we shall one day be reabsorbed, there can emerge a vision of tolerance and benevolence precisely because we all have an interest in the equilibrium and harmony of this unique Substance. We share this interest because we think this Substance must, in some way, be enriched or deformed by what we have done over the millennia. What I would hazard (not as a metaphysical hypothesis, but as a timid concession to the hope that never abandons us) is that even from this point of view you can postulate once more the problem of some kind of life after death…Who knows if death, rather than an implosion, might not be an explosion, a re-formation somewhere in the vortices of the universe, of the software (which others call the soul) which we fashion in the course of our lives, and which is made up of memories and personal remorse (and therefore incurable suffering), or of a sense of peace at duty fulfilled—and love."
life  substance  spirituality  leonardoboff  spinoza  umbertoeco  development  utopia  liberation  atheism  communalism  theologyofliberation  theology  paulofreire  environment  socialism  2012  paulsoulellis 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Why I am no longer a skeptic
"That's right: the nerds won, decades ago, and they're now as thoroughly established as any other part of the establishment. And while nerds a relatively new elite, they're overwhelmingly the same as the old: rich, white, male, and desperate to hang onto what they've got. And I have come to realise that skepticism, in their hands, is just another tool to secure and advance their privileged position, and beat down their inferiors. As a skeptic, I was not shoring up the revolutionary barricades: instead, I was cheering on the Tsar's cavalry."

"The truth is, I became a skeptic for aesthetic reasons, and the truth is, its aesthetics now repel me. I increasingly find the core skeptical output monotonous and repetitive: there are only so many times you can debunk the same old junk, and I've had it up to here with science fanboyism. And when skeptics talk about subjects outside their domain of expertise, I'm struck by how irrelevant their comments are, and how ugly, shrill and trivial."
stephenbond  psychology  camps  mindset  reality  narrative  identity  cv  howwethink  howweact  privilege  bullying  nerds  thought  criticism  politics  science  philosophy  atheism  skepticism  via:nicolefenton 
september 2012 by robertogreco
The American Scholar: My Atheism—An Interim Report - William Deresiewicz
"But gradually, at first unwillingly, over the last 10 years or so, something began to change. Not my atheism—that isn’t going to change. To paraphrase Marilynne Robinson (leave it to a believer to find the perfect way of putting it), I’m a categorical atheist. Says a character in Gilead, “I don’t even believe God doesn’t exist.” God, in other words, is a meaningless concept. But my feelings about religion—those have begun to change."

"I no longer divide the world between believers and nonbelievers. I divide it between fundamentalists of both kinds and (for lack of a better word) liberals of both kinds. Liberal Catholics, Reconstructionist Jews, various kinds of mainline Protestants: people who understand religion the way that I understand art, as a source of spiritual wisdom and moral guidance, not literal truths about the physical world. The content of my atheism hasn’t changed. What’s changed—what continues to change—is the way that I live it."
2012  moralguidance  morality  wisdom  spirituality  liberalism  fundamentalism  belief  religion  atheism  williamderesiewicz  from delicious
july 2012 by robertogreco
Millsin' About
"A senior editor and columnist for the BBC Music Magazine disliked his experiences with religion and religious people as a youth, as many an English boy has done. He became and remained an atheist. And he always found little to like in Bruckner.

Then one day, listening to one of the late symphonies performed in concert, to his surprise he found himself transported. He could not associate the emotion with anything but religious belief and wrote that he began to wonder if he had not ever really understood religion.

This is an anecdote.

— Dad."
sensemaking  emotions  bruckner  2012  atheism  anecdote  belief  anecdotes  religion  millsbaker 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Off The Record: A Quest For De-Baptism In France : NPR
"Up to now, observers say the de-baptism trend has been marginal, but it's growing. In neighboring Belgium, the Brussels Federation of Friends of Secular Morality reports that 2,000 people asked to be de-baptized in 2010. The newspaper Le Monde estimated that about 1,000 French people a year ask to have their baptisms annulled.

There is much anger across the continent by the recent pedophile scandals. In September, Germans marched to protest the pope's visit.

Christian Weisner, who is with the German branch of the grassroots movement We Are Church, says Europeans still want religion, and they want to believe, but it has become very difficult within the Catholic Church.

"It's the way that the Roman Catholic Church has not followed the new approach of democracy, the new approach of the women's issue," he says, "and there is really a big gap between the Roman Catholic Church and modern times.""
secularism  europe  germany  belgium  france  2012  atheism  baptism  de-baptism  religion  catholicism  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
Message to American Atheists - Christopher Hitchens - AA Conference, via Pharyngula - RichardDawkins.net
"The cheap name for this lethal delusion is religion, & we must learn new ways of combating it in the public sphere, just as we have learned to free ourselves of it in private.<br />
Our weapons are the ironic mind against the literal: the open mind against the credulous; the courageous pursuit of truth against the fearful & abject forces who would set limits to investigation…Perhaps above all, we affirm life over the cults of death & human sacrifice & are afraid, not of inevitable death, but rather of a human life that is cramped & distorted by the pathetic need to offer mindless adulation, or the dismal belief that the laws of nature respond to wailings & incantations.<br />
As the heirs of a secular revolution, American atheists have a special responsibility to defend & uphold the Constitution that patrols the boundary btwn Church & State. This, too, is an honor and a privilege…"
atheism  christopherhitchens  death  religion  secularism  us  policy  jefferson  belief  2011  constitution  law  separationofchurchandstate  church  state  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
The Technium: Possibilians vs Agnostics
"Eagleman: "Our ignorance of the cosmos is too vast to commit to atheism, and yet we know too much to commit to a particular religion. A third position, agnosticism, is often an uninteresting stance in which a person simply questions whether his traditional religious story is true or not true. But with Possibilianism I'm hoping to define a new position -- one that emphasizes the exploration of new, unconsidered possibilities. Possibilianism is comfortable holding multiple ideas in mind; it is not interested in committing to any particular story."

…Agnostics end w/ lack of an answer. Possibilians begin w/ lack of an answer. Agnostics say, we can't decide between this & that. Possibilians say, there are other choices… Agnostics say, I Don't Know, it's impossible to answer that question. Possibilians say, I Don't Know, there must be better questions. Both start in humility, but agnosticism is bounded by our great ignorance, while possibilism is unbounded by our limited knowledge."
davideagleman  kevinkelly  uncertainty  possibility  possibilianism  religion  certainty  science  belief  agnosticism  atheism  doubt  curiosity  humility  skepticism  storytelling  criticalthinking  philosophy  ambiguity  hubble  ultradeepfield  ralphwaldoemerson  literature  myths  greekmyths  greeks  romans  creationstories  stories  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
David Eagleman on Possibilianism on Vimeo
"Neuroscientist and best-selling author David Eagleman introduces the concept of Possibilianism, a new philosophy that simultaneously embraces a scientific toolbox while exploring new, unconsidered uncertainties about the world around us."
davideagleman  religion  atheism  agnosticism  possibilianism  philosophy  science  ambiguity  uncertainty  certainty  belief  curiosity  hubble  ultradeepfield  ralphwaldoemerson  literature  myths  greekmyths  greeks  romans  creationstories  storytelling  stories  possibility  doubt  humility  skepticism  criticalthinking  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
Stray Questions for: David Eagleman - NYTimes.com
"with Possibilianism I’m hoping to define a new position—one that emphasizes the exploration of new, unconsidered possibilities. Possibilianism is comfortable holding multiple ideas in mind; it is not interested in committing to any particular story."

"I’m always recommending my literary heroes: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, Toni Morrison, William Faulkner. At the moment, I’m reading David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas” and Olaf Stapledon’s “First and Last Men.” In the nonfiction realm I read a lot of neuroscience and physics, but in this past week I’ve been revisiting Carl Sagan, an early inspiration for my Possibilianism."
philosophy  davideagleman  possibilianism  tonimorrison  gabrielgarcíamárquez  italocalvino  borges  davidmitchell  agnosticism  athieism  belief  uncertainty  religion  atheism  science  ambiguity  certainty  curiosity  hubble  ultradeepfield  williamfaulkner  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
Emma Goldman - Wikipedia
"Goldman's anarchism was intensely personal. She believed it was necessary for anarchist thinkers to live their beliefs, demonstrating their convictions with every action and word. "I don't care if a man's theory for tomorrow is correct," she once wrote. "I care if his spirit of today is correct." Anarchism and free association were to her logical responses to the confines of government control and capitalism. "It seems to me that these are the new forms of life," she wrote, "and that they will take the place of the old, not by preaching or voting, but by living them."

At the same time, she believed that the movement on behalf of human liberty must be staffed by liberated humans."
emmagoldman  modeling  anarchism  activism  politics  history  feminism  anarchy  liberty  freedom  freeassociation  belief  practice  government  capitalism  atheism  motherearth  philosophy  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
A Holiday Message from Ricky Gervais: Why I'm An Atheist - Speakeasy - WSJ
"I was about 8 years old…drawing crucifixion…my brother [Bob] came home…11 years older than me…smart as anyone I knew, but too cheeky…Bob asked, “Why do you believe in God?” Just a simple question. But my mum panicked. “Bob,” she said in a tone that I knew meant, “Shut up.” Why was that a bad thing to ask? If there was a God & my faith was strong it didn’t matter what people said.

Oh…hang on. There is no God. He knows it, & she knows it deep down. It was as simple as that. I started thinking about it & asking more questions, & w/in an hour, I was an atheist.

…gifts of my new found atheism…truth, science, nature. The real beauty of this world…evolution…imagination, free will, love, humor. I no longer needed a reason for my existence, just a reason to live…

But living an honest life -– for that you need the truth. That’s the other thing I learned that day, that the truth, however shocking or uncomfortable, in the end leads to liberation & dignity."
religion  atheism  science  god  humor  belief  childhood  rickygervais  christianity  2010  dignity  truth  nature  evolution  liberation  life  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Mary Midgley - Against humanism | New Humanist
"The moral of all this is, I think, that Hitchens is simply wrong. The poison does not come from religion itself but from political misuses of it. The kinds of idea that we class as religious actually range from the excellent to the awful, from the poisonous to the most nourishing. But there is a general tendency for new imaginative ways of understanding life to emerge from religious thinking – that is, from thoughts which go beyond current human horizons…<br />
<br />
In this way many of the moral insights we value highly today – for instance, the coherence of the cosmos and the value of the individual soul, as well as the conviction that All is Number – have originally been shaped in religious contexts. If we decide to drop those contexts as obsolete we lose half the meaning of the ideas themselves." [via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/1500867075/the-language-that-has-been-developed-over-the]
atheism  humanism  religion  marymidgley  belief  humans  understanding  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Please Come Back to Church on September 12, 2010 | NW Ohio Skeptics
"And exactly what will we REDISCOVER if we come back on September 12, 2010? What has changed in the last year? Two years? Five years? Ten years? Outside of the use of rock music and preachers trying to act “cool” what’s changed? Same God. Same Bible. Same closed-mindedness. You see, WE, those who have left the sacred Christian shines to a dead God, WE have found out we don’t need Church. Church has lost its significance, its meaning, its purpose. You had your chance. More are leaving every day. Almost 22,000 people a day say goodbye. Granted some remain Christian, but the number of those abandoning Christianity, the none’s, continues to increase. The Church has become a kingdom on this earth. Pastors rule as kings wielding political and corporate power. You have become everything that Jesus despised. Jesus and his teachings have long since been lost. You carry the name but you are an empty shell. So, do not knock on my door, I am not interested. You have nothing I want."

[via: http://scudmissile.tumblr.com/post/942752505/and-exactly-what-will-we-rediscover-if-we-come ]
religion  atheism  christianity  2010  politics  jesus  power  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
GodBlock - Protect your children
"GodBlock is a web filter that blocks religious content. It is targeted at parents and schools who wish to protect their kids from the often violent, sexual, and psychologically harmful material in many holy texts, and from being indoctrinated into any religion before they are of the age to make such decisions. When installed properly, GodBlock will test each page that your child visits before it is loaded, looking for passages from holy texts, names of religious figures, and other signs of religious propaganda. If none are found, then your child is allowed to browse freely."
humor  atheism  censorship  religion  godblock  activism  advocacy  plugin  privacy  content  filter  parody  internet 
july 2010 by robertogreco
BigThink videos: Penn Jillette and Dan Ariely - Boing Boing
"A couple of great videos from BigThink. First, Penn Jillette on how reading the great religious texts will make you into an atheist, the future of magic, and how he and Teller work together."

[Videos are at: http://bigthink.com/pennjillette AND http://bigthink.com/danariely ]
behavior  rationality  religion  pennjillette  skepticism  atheism  irrationality  primarysources  criticalthinking  magic  pennandteller  performance  business  partnerships  ikeaeffecy  ikea  onlinedating  math  politics  tolerance  respect  morality  right  wrong  glenbeck  abbiehoffman  libertarianism  honesty  humility  tcsnmy  classideas  civics  policy  humanity  context  media  perspective  evil  good  wisdom  disagreement  debate  philosophy  drugs  alcohol  modeling 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Welcome to the Possibilium
"Possibilianism is a philosophy which rejects both the idiosyncratic claims of traditional theism and the positions of certainty in atheism in favor of a middle, exploratory ground. The term was first defined by neuroscientist David Eagleman in relation to his book of fiction Sum. Asked whether he was an atheist or a religious person on a National Public Radio interview in February, 2009, he replied "I call myself a Possibilian: I'm open to...ideas that we don't have any way of testing right now."...

[see also: http://www.vimeo.com/12543623 ]
possibilianism  atheism  davideagleman  faith  learning  philosophy  religion  science  longnow  life  uncertainty  tcsnmy 
july 2010 by robertogreco
“We’re All Born Atheists”: A Religious Person Defends Non-Belief « SpeakEasy
"Being an atheist in America means being less than human. I know from personal experience, not from being an atheist but from being raised Christian in a conservative Christian town and holding negative biases about atheists. Like many others I thought that a belief in God was the foundation of morality, that Christians were superior to others and that atheists were a threat to believers. I didn’t, however, reach this conclusion consciously after weighing the facts and examining the issue independently. But rather it was something so ingrained within the culture that it permeated the social conscience. And of course atheists were just one group among many targeted by some Christians. But for several years now there have been movements both religious and secular that have championed the rights of other marginalized groups such as gays, people of color and women. Now it’s time for religious and spiritual people to take a stand for non-believers of all varieties."
christianity  atheism  society  thought  us  culture  discrimination  religion  ethics  morality  2010  bescofield  marginalization  richarddawkins  christopherhitchens  samharris  danieldennett  dominance  pervasiveness  outsiders  outsider 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Let's Play "Name the Atheist” - Uncategorized - GOOD
"While I embrace (and occasionally spoon) atheism, I sympathize with others who would like a different word but aren’t comfortable with the ultra-hesitant "agnostic" label either. Fortunately, the English language has a rich history and ever-evolving present. In the spirit of previous columns on economic pickles and rampaging Romeos, here’s a guide to old and new terms for non-believing, heretical blasphemers—because godless doesn’t have to mean synonym-less."
religion  atheism  language  english  words  definitions 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Possibilianism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Possibilianism is a philosophy which rejects both the idiosyncratic claims of traditional theism and the positions of certainty in atheism in favor of a middle, exploratory ground.[1][2][3] The term was first defined by neuroscientist David Eagleman in relation to his book of fiction Sum.[4] Asked whether he was an atheist or a religious person on a National Public Radio interview in February, 2009, he replied "I call myself a Possibilian: I'm open to a lot of ideas that we don't have any way of testing right now.""
religion  atheism  belief  possibilianism  davideagleman  exploration  science  tcsnmy 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Caterina.net: Frans de Waal on Creationism and the Anti-religious movement
""At the same time, I must say that I don't think the recent wave of God-questioning rants have helped much. They have polarized the issue, whereas in my mind it is eminently possible to look at religion as a collective value system and at science as telling us how the physical world operates. Even though I am not religious myself, I think the conflict between science and religion is unnecessary and overblown."
religion  atheism  christianity  ritual  catholicism  rituals 
february 2010 by robertogreco
An Open Letter to Our Friends — Doodads and Gimcracks [via: http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/blog/?p=3693]
"Many of you have been hearing things about us from various sources, & some of you have contacted us to express concern or ask about what you’ve heard.
society  culture  religion  atheism  christianity  belief 
february 2010 by robertogreco
The Meming of Life » Raising Free-linkers Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders
"Raising Freethinkers is chock-full of resources, including several bazillion URLs. Most are manageable, but some are just unforgivably long. Even as we prepared the manuscript, I wondered just how many people would really have the fortitude to type out strings like www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=246. Now Colin T at Science-Based Parenting has prevented an epidemic of carpal tunnel syndrome among secular parents by putting every URL from Raising Freethinkers online. He has even linked to the Amazon page for every recommended book."
secularism  parenting  atheism  belief  freethinking  dalemcgowan 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Losing My Religion / The Christian Science Monitor - CSMonitor.com
"It wasn’t reaction to his stories, per se, that most distressed him, he says, but the fact that Christians who were in a position to stand for principle and clean things up, regularly chose to turn a blind eye to dishonesty, corruption, and hypocrisy.
religion  faith  christianity  journalism  atheism  hypocrisy  humanism 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Sherwin Wine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Sherwin Theodore Wine (January 25, 1928– July 21, 2007) was a rabbi and a founding figure in Humanistic Judaism. Originally ordained a Reform rabbi, Wine founded the Birmingham Temple, the first congregation of Humanistic Judaism in 1963, in Birmingham, Michigan, outside Detroit, Michigan (the temple later relocated to its current location in Farmington Hills, Michigan)."
sherwinwine  humanism  judaism  religion  atheism  belief  humanisticjudaism 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Defending The Faith, And Morality, Of NonBelievers : NPR
"Humanism is a bold, resolute response to the fact that being a human being is lonely & frightening. Humanism means taking charge of the often lousy world around us & working to shape it into a better place that we know we cannot ever finish the task...a progressive life-stance or a progressive philosophy of life that w/out supernaturalism, w/out anything magical or supernatural, affirms our ability & our responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment, aspiring to the greater good of humanity...good without god...that struggle, that process of trying to live the best life that we possibly can for ourselves and for all human beings and for the sake of the natural world that surrounds us and sustains us and that we have put in danger...emphasis is not on the without god, everyone has something that they disbelieve...emphasis of humanism is really on what we do believe, it’s on the good & our pursuit of the good, & our determination to be good with others and for others."
gregepstein  humanism  religion  atheism  prayer  judaism  christianity  culture  faith  ethics  morality  sherwinwine  humanisticjudaism  2009 
december 2009 by robertogreco
The Meming of Life » A Hall of Fame reply…maybe Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders
"Had a lovely visit last month with the Freethinkers of East Cobb, a secular parenting group here in the Atlanta burbs. One of the group members named Kirstin left me a great gift — the cleverest reply I’ve ever heard to one of the most common questions nonreligious parents get. She and her husband cross paths with the occasional evangelical Christian homeschooling parent in the neighborhood. At some point, by Georgia law, the Christian parent will ask where they go to church. Kristin told me “Whenever we get that question, we just say, ‘Oh, we homechurch.’”"
parenting  religion  atheism  homechurch  dalemcgowan 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Culture & Society Articles | Looking at Link Between Religion, Prosperity at National Level | Miller-McCune Online Magazine
"In a paper posted recently on the online journal Evolutionary Psychology, independent researcher Gregory S. Paul reports a strong correlation within First World democracies between socioeconomic well-being and secularity. In short, prosperity is highest in societies where religion is practiced least."
religion  happiness  atheism  morality  secularism  prosperity  government  economics  science  politics  culture  society  sociology  statistics 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Chris Heathcote: anti-mega: true stories
"Being questioned about being an atheist but including an afterlife in his books, Pullman noted that the harpies wanted true stories – if you had one, you could die in peace; and, for atheists that have no predestination in life to hold on to, this is what you strive for – to have a true story to tell, an interesting, lived life."
atheism  storytelling  life  living  truth  myth  religion  philippullman 
november 2009 by robertogreco
What I've learned from debating religious people around the world. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine
"I haven't yet run into an argument that has made me want to change my mind. After all, a believing religious person, however brilliant or however good in debate, is compelled to stick fairly closely to a "script" that is known in advance, and known to me, too. However, I have discovered that the so-called Christian right is much less monolithic, and very much more polite and hospitable, than I would once have thought, or than most liberals believe."
christopherhitchens  philosophy  debate  controversy  ideology  society  science  evolution  religion  atheism 
october 2009 by robertogreco
The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan
"61 percent of Nones find evolution convincing, compared with 38 percent of all Americans. And yet they do not dismiss the possibility of a God they do not understand; and refuse to call themselves atheists. This is the fertile ground on which a new Christianity will at some point grow. In the end, the intellectual bankruptcy of the theocon right and Christianist movement counts. Very few people with brains are listening to these people any more. They have discredited Christianity as much as they have tarnished conservatism."
religion  atheism  nones  christianity  us  politics  demographics  belief  andrewsullivan 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Microsoft Muezzin « Snarkmarket
"I am a serious atheist. I am not dabbling in Islam. But even so, this app really called out to me (ha!) for two reasons. One, nostalgia. I do remember the athan—distant, spectral—from my time in Dhaka. Two, structure. I’m building my days entirely for myself now, and finding that it’s a challenge to split them into pieces. When does this thing end, and that one begin? It’s arbitrary. So—admittedly this is silly—I thought hey, this works for folks! Let’s give it a spin! I am 100% glad I downloaded it, if only to see the interface. Wow. Do you want the athan from Mecca or Medina?...Egypt? They’ve all been sampled. Do you want the dua after the athan? What juristic method will you be using for the asr prayer?...It might sound like I’m poking fun, but I am absolutely 100% not. One of my favorite intersections—and one of the most underreported—is the one between technology and religion. And an app like this lets you not just read about it, but sort of explore it."
islam  applications  windows  snarkmarket  structure  atheism  sound  prayer  atham  religion  muslims  nostalgia  tcsnmy 
september 2009 by robertogreco
The Meming of Life » My cover is blown
"The enemy of humanism is not faith. The enemy of humanism is hate, is fear, is ignorance, is the darker part of man that is in every humanist, every person in the world. That is the thing we have to fight. Faith is something we have to embrace. Faith in God is believing, absolutely, in something with no proof whatsoever. Faith in humanity means believing absolutely in something with a huge amount of proof to the contrary. We are the true believers." - Joss Whedon
josswhedon  belief  faith  humanism  atheism  humanity  evil  hate  fear  ignorance  philosophy  morality  dalemcgowan 
april 2009 by robertogreco
Freeman Dyson, global warming, biotechnology, evolution, science and religion | Salon Books
"For me, religion is much more about a community of people than about belief. It's fine literature and music. As far as I can tell, people who belong to my church don't necessarily believe anything. Certainly we don't talk about that much. I suppose I'm a better Jew than I am a Christian. Jewish religion is much more a matter of community than it is of belief, and I think that's true of us Christians to a great extent, too."
freemandyson  religion  christianity  atheism  richarddawkins  evolution  technology  climatechange  science  belief  community  biotech  physics  ecology  environment  climate  life  philosophy  future  faith 
march 2009 by robertogreco
History of Religion
"How has the geography of religion evolved over the centuries, and where has it sparked wars? Our map gives us a brief history of the world's most well-known religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. Selected periods of inter-religious bloodshed are also highlighted. Want to see 5,000 years of religion in 90 seconds? Ready, Set, Go!"
history  religion  tcsnmy  maps  mapping  timelines  visualization  geography  politics  society  buddhism  islam  christianity  judaism  atheism  hinduism 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Losing My Religion | csmonitor.com
"A freshly born-again Christian, Lobdell was a husband, father, and journalist who saw evidence of answered prayer in his own life as well, a life that he felt had been transformed by faith. Covering the religion beat was the perfect job for Lobdell – until the day that his work began to destroy his faith.
religion  faith  atheism  books  williamlobdell  journalism 
march 2009 by robertogreco
The Virtues of Godlessness - ChronicleReview.com
"It is a great socioreligious irony — for lack of a better term — that when we consider the fundamental values and moral imperatives contained within the world's great religions, such as caring for the sick, the infirm, the elderly, the poor, the orphaned, the vulnerable; practicing mercy, charity, and goodwill toward one's fellow human beings; and fostering generosity, humility, honesty, and communal concern over individual egotism — those traditionally religious values are most successfully established, institutionalized, and put into practice at the societal level in the most irreligious nations in the world today."
religion  sweden  denmark  psychogeography  psychology  happiness  ethics  culture  society  atheism  morality  belief  theology  philosophy 
january 2009 by robertogreco
The Demon-Haunted World - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"The book is intended to explain the scientific method to laymen, and to encourage people to learn critical or skeptical thinking. It explains methods to help distinguish between ideas that are considered valid science, and ideas that can be considered pseudoscience. Sagan states that when new ideas are offered for consideration, they should be tested by means of skeptical thinking, and should stand up to rigorous questioning."
science  skepticism  skeptic  books  carlsagan  via:blackbeltjones  freedom  atheism 
december 2008 by robertogreco
Unitarian Universalism - Wikipedia
"The flaming chalice is a widely used symbol for Unitarian Universalism. Unitarian Universalism (UUism) is a theologically liberal religion characterized by its support for a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning." Unitarian Universalists do not share a creed; rather, they are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth. Unitarian Universalists draw on many different theological sources and have a wide range of beliefs and practices. Both Unitarianism and Universalism trace their origins to Christian Protestantism and thus Unitarian Universalism has its historical roots in the Christian faith."

[Compare with: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universalism AND
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarianism AND
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Universalist ]
christianity  belief  atheism  spirituality  religion  unitarianism  universalism  reason  philosophy  faith 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Helmintholog » Blog Archive » On the loss of history
"Thinking about the ignorant, angry atheists who infest the Guardian’s comment pages I realised one thing they have in common with scriptural fundamentalists: they have no idea of history. They live in an eternally dazzling present and they can’t imagine that there is anything outside it. Oh, sure, they have legends — the inquisition, the crusades, the middle ages — but within these legends the actors move, as they do in renaissance paintings, entirely in contemporary dress. There is no sense of the strangeness and difficulty of the past; no sense that many things have been tried and failed; no sense that words once meant things entirely different and possibly inexpressible now."
history  religion  belief  atheism  ignorance  fundamentalism  via:migurski 
november 2008 by robertogreco
The latest research on the correlation between religion and niceness. - By Paul Bloom - Slate Magazine
"The sorry state of American atheists, then, may have nothing to do with their lack of religious belief. It may instead be the result of their outsider status within a highly religious country where many of their fellow citizens, including very vocal ones like Schlessinger, find them immoral and unpatriotic. Religion may not poison everything, but it deserves part of the blame for this one."
atheism  belief  religion  society  culture  science  psychology  research  community  us 
november 2008 by robertogreco
The atheist delusion | Review | guardian.co.uk Books
"'Opposition to religion occupies high ground, intellectually & morally,' wrote Martin Amis recently. Over past few years, leading writers & thinkers have published bestselling tracts against God. John Gray on why 'secular fundamentalists' have got it all
atheism  belief  religion  humanity  secularism  philosophy  theology  books  culture  evolution  democracy  progress  christianity  meaning 
march 2008 by robertogreco
'Call to Renewal' Keynote Address [Wednesday, June 28, 2006] | U.S. Senator Barack Obama
"need to understand critical role separation of church & state has played in preserving not only democracy, but robustness of religious practice...Democracy demands religiously motivated translate concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, va
barackobama  politics  religion  christianity  democrats  atheism  belief  elections  2008  2006  us  government  nuance  dialog  gamechanging  dialogue 
february 2008 by robertogreco
ABC News: Putting Candidates' Religion to the Test: 12 Irreligious Questions for the Candidates Before "Tiw's Day's" Elections
"If religion and religious ideas are going to be more publicly discussed, candidates and their supporters will have to accustom themselves to the free expression of doctrines contrary to their own, in particular to irreligious perspectives."
religion  politics  elections  us  atheism 
february 2008 by robertogreco
The Inglehart Values Map
"The Inglehart Values Map visualizes the strong correlation of values in different cultures. Countries are clustered in a remarkably predictable way."
atheism  culture  expression  human  mapping  maps  politics  reference  religion  values  philosophy  freedom  visualization  world  international  via:preoccupations 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Faith and politics | The new wars of religion | Economist.com
"Ironically, America, the model for much choice-based religion, has often seemed stuck in the secular era, declaring war on state-sponsored terror, only to discover the main weapon of militant Islamism is often the ballot box."
atheism  religion  war  politics  government  policy  us  asia  europe  science  islam  christianity  future  secularism  guyfawkes  terrorism 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Demos | Blog | Humanising Dawkins
"The ultra-rational professor is only taking a one-eyed view of humanity - if he opened the other he might suddenly understand the religious belief he takes to be a childlike delusion."
culture  religion  science  atheism  society 
november 2006 by robertogreco
Comment is free: Faith in common ground
"Claiming that our own beliefs are superior does nothing to promote understanding between people of faith and atheists."
religion  science  dialog  atheism  dialogue 
october 2006 by robertogreco
Wired News: Battle of the New Atheism
"The New Atheists will not let us off the hook simply because we are not doctrinaire believers. They condemn not just belief in God but respect for belief in God. Religion is not only wrong; it's evil. Now that the battle has been joined, there's no excus
philosophy  religion  science  atheism  journalism 
october 2006 by robertogreco
David Foster Wallace - Commencement Speech at Kenyon University
"If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is & you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won't consider possibilities that aren't annoying & miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options." ... "It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over: "This is water." "This is water." It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime. And it commences: now. I wish you way more than luck."
life  psychology  philosophy  culture  work  davidfosterwallace  academia  adulthood  truth  wisdom  learning  empathy  death  consciousness  education  commencement  kenyon  thinking  advice  atheism  religion  belief  perspective  observation  commencementspeeches  commencementaddresses 
december 2005 by robertogreco

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