I have written and I have had many a discussion where I articulate my sense of affinity for that which many atheists articulate. The reasons for rejecting a notion of a personal God are many. A good many of these reasons reside in the philosophical and “rationality”. While I have some questions about how truly exhaustive and definitive these arguments are, I can find much there that is understandable, and even “persuasive” if I “limit” myself to certain notions of what constitutes “rational”, because for many, what is “rational” is deeply tied to a philosophical framework that, in turn, is deeply tied to a particular “worldview”. Our modern age brings with it some notions that shy away from the “spiritual” in deference to the “rational” (the latter mention being that rationality which privileges the “scientific” (I use quotes because science itself is not a monolithic agreement on what consititutes “fact” – when I hear people deny this, I continue to hear them say things like “it’s just obvious”. And it’s understandable as to why it seems “obvious”).
There is also the “problem” posed by a variety of “religious” people and their insititutions. There is quite a bit of distortion and corruption that can be found. The distortions are often perpetrated by people so visible and so “loud” that it makes me cringe when I see the microphone moving in their direction. But these are not “representative” of “religion”. Indeed, NOTHING is “representative”. The very nature of religion is that it deals with ultimate values. Atheists have core or ultimate values. “Core” is probably a better designation because then the people who have a problem with any “ultimate” or “supreme” values; meaning those who tend toward the notion that ALL values are “relative”. But even those who would shy away from talk of “ultimate values” cannot escape the fact that they themselves operate within their own sense of what matters most to them.
There are many, many self-professing atheists and also “agnostic” who both have and articulate a strong sense of affinity for social justice, peace, and compassion for people. With them, I feel a deeper theological affinity than I do for people who claim to be Christian and yet associate themselves with values that come into direct conflict with the core values I identify as being Jesus’ core values. What people CLAIM to be their motivation for the values they hold are deeply shaped by what they have LEARNED from the communities to which they have found themselves to be in support, and are supported BY. There are GOOD reasons for people to reject the notion of a personal God, most often because they have come to the conclusion that the people who represent “the people of God” in their life have been anything but a people to be emulated, admired, or trusted. People with abusive parents experience future problems trusting men or women, or authority figures. Abusive and domineering religious experience can do the same with one’s notion of “God” and religious people. Some have also overcome those wounds to the extent that they realize at their core how their experience was not “the will of God” ; that it was a result of deep failures to live up to something more positive and supportive of themselves and of others.
As long as this post is, it only scratches the surface of how close I feel to many experiences reflected in the deeply profound articulations I hear from many atheists and agnostics concerning what they think about what would make the world a better place, and what they can do about it.
And what has this to do with Church? It is CONNECTED in the same way that the Occupy Movement has created a space in which the Church should be and NEEDS to be present. The issue of Net Neutrality and protecting it from the hegemony of the monied interests. If we do not, the Church itself will find its communication efforts severely curtailed and its opportunities for ANY kind of presence in the communication media SEVERELY hampered. If big money is allowed to further restrict the priveleges and bandwidth of the “non-big money” players, then we will be prisoners once again, This is beyond and WORSE than people imagined when they questioned the wisdom of allowing ANY commercialization of the Internet. I hope we know better now. “Commercialization” is inevitable aided (aka “restricted”) by the control exercised by the power of mega dollars, just as it does in the political arena. The hegemony of the 1% is thoroughly represented in the telecommunications industry by the proposed Comcast “Borging” of Time Warner; the merger of the two biggest behemoths that will create an even more powerful, inflexible, ominous power “Mother Ship”.
The FCC needs to be called to account. Ostensibly, the FCC is the “protector” of the people’s interest against undue monied interests in the Telecommunications industry. We see now how that has worked out. The head of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, was appointed by Obama directly out of his lobbying for the Telecomm companies. Nice help, Mr. Obama. Sold out. We need to highlight this and say NO NO NO. It’s ridiculous.
The only things that have shown up in my comments are the social media pointers I have put out asking my theological friends to comment. It’s not that this is THE most important issue on the world. It’s not. Their are wars, killings, severe oppression, economic hegemony of the extremely wealthy, etc. But this IS a vastly influential and consequential issue. And if there is any value to Net Freedom (which I definitely think there is), is there not a theological case to be made (I think there is). It IS a justice issue. It is yet another case of the rich and powerful rigging the system to maximize their profits at the expense of the good of the non-rich and powerful. It IS the right of everyone on the earth to have the opportunities to participate, and the most crucial aspect of that is that this is an avenue where people can tell their stories. The world needs to know a lot of these stories. Our communities of interest WANT to know our particular stories. The collaborative energies generated by finding people who respond and support our stories are marvelous and miraculous energies. It goes all the way to the level of the principle idea of the gifts of the body of Christ. The church exists as an incubator to call forth and cultivate those gifts that result in needs being addressed. So the issue of Net Freedom is a theological issue in that all of us have contributions to make, and the Net has proven to be a powerful source of extending the stories of groups and individuals in order to widen the reach of the benefits of those who are about the task of living their calling.
Please go to my previous post at http://wp.theoblogical.org/?p=23272 and offer your thoughts.
One of my MANY frustrations with the church is another in the series of adoptions of the “ways of the world” via the Mass Media Model. To stand idly by and say nothing as companies like Comcast and Time Warner monopolize the broadband market and work to prevent municipalities who have their own ideas about what would be good for their constituents from implementing those things which would lead to that good.
Broadband infrastructure is that good of which we are speaking here. We know, from the example of numerous foreign countries and some individual USA markets, that the broadband of the behemoth providers like Comcast is vastly overpriced and 50 to 100 times SLOWER than that “cheaper” broadband that can be had in these places where Comcast or Time Warner have not had their way. A mind blowing and infuriating history of these shenanigans is given by Susan Crawford in here book “Captive Audience”. It’s total bullshit, and we should be up in arms. Because it’s important. It’s important for education. It’s important for innovation because it connects us and enables a collaboration on a scale never before seen in history. It’s important for BUSINESS. For ALL businesses, even these BEHEMOTHS themselves! Their obvious problem here is that they are looking at and fighting for THE SHORT TERM. They are looking ahead exactly ZERO inches. And this is DUMB. STUPID. SHORT-SIGHTED. Self destructive.
Another danger in letting the behemoths consolidate is that they will be able to more firmly control what travels along their pipes, and how well it travels. They can give better quality of bandwidth to “privileged content” (aka “Content providers who pay a premium to the carriers. Those who don’t simply don’t get the quality or perhaps even the access. It is a turning back of the clock to the cost prohibitive days of television when only the huge production companies (NBC, CBS, ABC, and later, somewhat as a public service to provide a modicum of presence to a “public forum”, PBS).
The above is where the church needs to “be afraid, be very afraid”. If the pipes are to become sold to the highest bidder, then the opportunity that the church has had and continues to flounder in leveraging, is lost. We’ll see the “internet version” of media monopoly, which has already begun. As usual, the church looks at the Internet and sees a shovelware channel. It’s stuck in the world of print, and in some “cool” instances, in the world of old broadcast media with top-down , TV style video “streaming”. All of the innovation lies ahead in the convergence of video conferencing, social media, and mobile technology. Look ahead , folks.