SHAGGY GOD STORY: I just realized that my summation yesterday ignored one ubiquitous genre of weblog post: naked blogrolling. Allow me to rectify that. My friend Timothy Virkkala, from whom I stole the title of this entry, has an interesting essay on his site about religion, history, liberty -- all that good stuff. Mostly, about "this idea that our liberal civilization -- based on a rule of law and a fair amount of individual liberty -- rests mostly on Christianity."
Tim's background: He was raised a Christian, and as a teenager, he took it very seriously. More so than most people. Seriously enough to seriously question it, and eventually to move from zealotry to disbelief. The interesting thing is that, unlike many apostates -- strange, to use that word and realize I'm actually landing somewhere near its original meaning -- he isn't filled with bitterness at his former faith or with the dogmatic fire of the convert. He's tolerant and amused, by Christianity and by its rival spiritual ideologies; he recognizes his former self as himself, rather than as an imposter who must be denounced at every opportunity, and he continues to treat religion with interest and respect. Put another way: He continues to take it seriously.
The result is an interesting commentary, open to historical nuance and wary of cant, be it Christian or rationalist. As the blogger saying goes, read it now.
As for me: I'm not religious in any conventional sense of the word, I don't think "faith" is in itself a virtue, and I think a lot of really lousy things have been done in the name of one god or another. On the other hand, the record I've listened to more than any other in the last week is a gospel album, The Best of the Mighty Clouds of Joy. Any militant freethinker whose worldview shuts out the wonder of this music is living in a mental prison as unpleasant as any Taliban's.