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Sam Harris vs Karen Armstrong

November 12, 2014 By: Dale Lature G+ Category: Islam, Occupy Theology, Theoblogical

Karen Armstong wrote this:   to which Harris has posted a rather rude, incomplete,  shallow retort in the style of his usual blanket assertions about the inanities of religion and the superiority of his New Atheism.

I am hopeful that Armstrong’s winsome depiction of Islam will shame and enlighten them, as it has me. They will discover that Hassan al-Banna and Tariq Ramadan are paragons of meliorism and wisdom, while we are ignorant bigots who know nothing of theology (of course), politics (Christopher, are you listening?), human nature (what’s to know?), or the proper limits of science (um … narrower?).

via The God Fraud : : Sam Harris.

Nice, Sam.  You say : “They will discover that Hassan al-Banna and Tariq Ramadan are paragons of meliorism and wisdom”   ,  also something Armstrong doesn’t come anywhere close to saying.  So who’s being hyperbolic , here?

And then ,  it’s right back into the straw man arguments Harris, Dawkins, and Hitchens are and were fond of:

I can’t quite remember how we got it into our heads that jihad was linked to violence. – Harris

And since Armstrong also spends a great deal of time and text exploring the ACTUAL history of “jihad” ,  INCLUDING the occurrences AND THE HISTORY OF THE VIOLENT STRANDS,  that is a particularly OBTUSE way of scrapping her entire argument in favor of the ones you intend to perpetrate in the first place.

Then Harris launches in to his usual diatribe,  cataloguing the instances of human sacrifice.

I hope that Armstrong will soon apply her capacious understanding of human nature to these phenomena.

But she did and has, Sam.  But you stay with your winning narrative; ‘Winning” in it’s capacity to draw the applause of gleeful New Atheists worldwide.  You seem adverse to ACTUAL socio-historical analysis.

Basically,  Harris is here,  as he often is,  a sarcastic jerk.  He detracts from any balanced philosophical, socratic approach he may well be capable of employing.

Armstrong need only reply with one answer,  as she does:

Like many religious people, I do not believe in demons. I abhor violence of any kind, be it verbal or physical, religious or secular.

But Harris proceeds on as if he’s never been confronted with such obviously challenging and confronting claims.  He sticks with the same , tired, applause lines.

More from Armstrong:

To identify religion with its worst manifestations, claim that they represent the whole, and then demolish the straw dog thus set up does not seem a rational or useful way of conducting this important debate.

In the past, theologians such as Rudolf Bultmann, Karl Rahner, and Paul Tillich enjoyed fruitful conversations with atheists and found their theology enriched by the encounters. We desperately need such interchange today. A truly Socratic dialogue with atheists could help to counter many of the abuses of faith that Harris so rightly deplores.

Harris is also seemingly oblivious (or conveniently obtuse) about Armstrong’s main point (yea, even in the subtitle does she point it out):

why secularism is almost as much of a threat to the world as fundamentalism

Harris simply ignores this.  I also suspect that his obtuseness here is not necessarily intentional.  It is a matter of simply not getting it (because he seems not to have read her at all….except that his habit of returning right back to his straw man arguments about religion could well be the culprit….but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he DID read her at length,  in which case he simply reduced her to the same narrow confines that he has set out in the first place.





The GOP’s Plan To Do Nothing « The Dish HT @DavidDark

November 07, 2014 By: Theoblogical Category: People's Climate, Theoblogical

Gleaned from the Tweet stream earlier,  from David Dark’s link:

Fox News and the entire conservative media-industrial complex have no real interest in Republican governance. They thrive on conflict and on opposition

via The GOP’s Plan To Do Nothing « The Dish.

Absolutely.  Clearest indication I’ve yet seen that the end REALLY IS the power.  Fuck the governing.  Thtat’s just a ruse.  “Our Town” is about being IN THE GAME,  which is more like a place of ARRIVAL rather than a commitment to the journey toward justice.   The GOP seems dominated by people who scoff at the very term, “justice”.  They’ve given that over to the ridicule chamber,  like they have the environment.  Everything is “conniving liberals” who dare to suggest thereis something wrong with unfettered capitalism.  They’re focused on keeping the money flowing to their place of arrival.  And as all such places,  it continues to refocus it’s gaze on ever more,  endless streams of economic advantage.  Fruitful ground for exploitation.

This really good quote from @KevinDrum:

It’s a little surprising that we’ve gotten to the point where apparently this level of cynicism is so routine that no one thinks twice about spelling it out in public in explicit detail. Welcome to modern politics.

Indeed.  Depresssing.  It was on full dislay on the two consecutive days after the GOP dominance of the elction Tuesday.  Wednesday McConnell was spewing his all-too ironic call to “cooperation and getting things done through cooperation” ,  followed by a 24 hour spiel the next day about repealing ObamaCare.  Sheesh.  Governing is simply not as interesting as the endless battles.

HT @DavidDark

the theologically savvy army of database geeks that are thus far UNTAPPED by Church Comm orgs

October 19, 2014 By: Dale Lature G+ Category: Facebook, Theoblogical

I’m doing a lot more book reading lately,  and I post things that occur to me as I read.  Amazon could REALLY do with some big-time enhancements and apps to help communities of book readers form and converse.  One can go and find comments under nearly all of their books,  but there is nothing to enable deeper connection with people who read similar books.  They do this with sales,  and show us recommendations of books we might like ,  given our interest in a particular book.  Seems this is yet another area where the church communication organizations need to research. Another of those “Social Graph for Theological Communities” issues I am frequently writing and talking about.  These generalized community platforms don’t have the experience and knowledge re: theological taxonomies that are needed to build effective Social Graphs that would help us to leverage connections that await all of us in the mounds of data that get captured by Social Graphs of not just Facebook but others who seek to find a winning recipe of data-intensive social insights that need only to be mined by the theologically savvy army of database geeks that HAVE TO EXIST out there but have remained untapped by church technologists.

I blog in an age of Social Media /Twitter because I often desire more than RTs. I want conversation

October 19, 2014 By: Dale Lature G+ Category: Theoblogical

I blog because I fancy myself a writer. I blog in an age of Social Media /Twitter because I often desire more than RTs. I want conversation.

I’ve worked lately to improve my comment system and options for readers.  I am blogging on a regular basis again.  But the comments just aren’t coming.  What has happened? Where are people who used to be commenting even back before there were “Comment systems”.  I provided an email link.  People used it.  Then blogs came along ( I began using them in 2002,  starting with Dave Winer’s pioneering blog software, Radio Userland.  There were comments coming in all the time.  (Sadly,  I neglected to archive /backup my comments that I amassed during my Radio blog activity.  I got the notice,  and I filed it away to come back and do ,  and of course,  I forgot.  So I deeply regret that.)   As Social Media has grown,  and people “debate” on Twitter,  the responses seem to have dwindled,  down to RTs and Likes.  The large publishers and news orgs get TONS of comments (and trolls too),  and the hugely popular bloggers get them (and the trolls too).  But it doesn’t seem to happen anymore on the smaller blogs.  I also worry about how it might not be “smaller blogs” and “small traffic blogs” ,  but that I’ve lost something of my attractiveness for conversation.  I try to avoid staying in that place,  and determine to keep trying.


.@Joerg_Rieger on Organizing Alternative Power & #OccupyTheology

October 18, 2014 By: Dale Lature G+ Category: Occupy Theology, OWS, Theoblogical

even faith-based organizing becomes problematic without the hard theological work of distinguishing liberative faith from status quo faith.
– Joerg Rieger in response to Romand Coles ‘ article:  Ecotones and the Arts of Radical Ecclesia and Radical Democracy | Syndicate.


For me,  and it seems also for Joerg Rieger,  the Occupy Movement provided the church with a model of organizing activism that emphasizes the “with” aspect of advocacy over the “for” (and so , unfortunately too often “Patronizing, we are helping these poor folks as our ministry”).

Rieger refers to the  “Theology of the Multitude” (indeed , it is the subtitle of the book) as a key to a “way of being” and embodiment as participants,  and as co-learners who are changed (and indeed HAVE BEEN CHANGED” by the people of the Occupy Movement.

Rieger asks a penetrating question of faith-based organizing movements that have forgotten the participatory and mutually transformative nature of the Occupy movement (and by extension,  all movements for seeking the Kingdom of God in some corner of the world, on some issue or set of realities that require attention to justice).

a good deal of faith-based organizing leads us right back into the hands of the system

Here is yet another place where Occupy contributed to some healthy theological soul-searching for the church;  our relationship to the system,  which is theological parlance is “the world”;  those “principalities and powers”.

Rieger also articulates something that is THE most frequent critique of Occupy I hear, and one that is undeniable,  given it’s eventual relegation to the social and political sidelines.  (Notice I didn’t say “death” or “extinction”).  What is important here, I think,  is that the model of leadership ; the “leaderless movement” is NOT ,  as many say ,  doomed to fail,  but simply needs to “keep working on” ,  as Joerg puts it:  “the question how alternative power can be organized in sustainable fashion”.

perhaps the Occupy movement was closer to organizing such alternative power than most people realized, judging by the drawn-out efforts to destroy it. – JR

I still believe this.