Archive for November, 2007

Yoga=spooky

I mentioned a long time ago that I had heard some folks believe that yoga is evil.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/11/29/pat-robertson-not-down-wi_n_74527.html

So? What does anybody think?

Correction: in the video, Robertson does not call yoga evil, he calls it spooky. No word on the spiritual state of Pilates – although given the name, I’m not hopeful! šŸ™‚

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Mormons

This Friday, I plan to watch a PBS documentary about the Mormon faith with a dear friend. I know pretty much nothing about the Mormon faith.

I went to the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and there were a fair number of Mormons there; Wyoming, it turns out, has a solid Mormon population. Lovell in particular was the home town of many I met, but Star Valley and other areas were just as well represented. Idaho, just west of Wyoming, is also a heavily Mormon state, although I don’t know if that’s overall or just in certain areas. Anyway, point being, while knowing many Mormons I managed to learn nothing about Mormonism, and this Friday I plan to fix that.

Overall, what do readers of this blog feel about the Mormon faith?

The Golden Compass

I posted yesterday about Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, coming soon to a theater near you. As I said, apparently some folks feel that his books are decidedly anti-Christian. But then I talked to a friend of mine who has actually read the books. Her opinion (and she’s roughly as agnostic as I am, so have yourself a grain of salt) was that the books are actually rather less anti-Christian than anti-religious-excess-of-all-sorts. And to her it seemed to affirm the value of faith, not to undercut it.

This is interesting, because the Baptist Press article I linked to suggested that the author is all kinds of anti-Christian and has said that he hoped to undermine kids’ beliefs. At any rate, it quoted some fairly incendiary things that Pullman has said in the past. Before long I will own these magical books and will be reading them with my discerning and agnostic eye, and it causes me to wonder something.

Is the author’s intent the true determinant of how a book comes across? In the out-of-context quotations mentioned above, it seemed to be clear that he’s quite anti-Christian. But if a reader doesn’t get that anti-Christian message, is it really there, even if the author has spoken publicly about that message? Authors are people too, and I’m curious whether his anti-Christian views (assuming they truly exist) might have come about since the books were published, or if he has become more anti-Christian and projects those beliefs back onto the books.

Anyway, whatever. If we can go back to a previous post, what seemed like a totally whackjob Catholic Church action turned out to be a relatively non-interesting one. And I’m going to go out on a limb and ask why it is there’s usually a minimum of sanity involved when a religious argument comes up – either on the part of the religious or the non-religious folk. Sigh.

Well, more on this when I know something about the books I’ve been discussing.

I probably shouldn’t get into politics, but…

…what do people think of Rudy Giuliani? Or Mitt Romney? I’m just curious.

This explains a lot

More on this later. And none of this should be ascribed to any particular religion, because this kind of extremism is potentially part and parcel of any religion. But this is the kind of thing that scares the crap out of me and (probably) my fellow agnostics. Check it out.

I’m reading Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, a book about the admittedly spooky side of theĀ Mormon faith. It makes a careful distinction between ordinary Mormons and the fundamentalist sort, and the distinction should be remembered. I knew Mormons at the University of Wyoming, and they were no more remarkable than the Catholics I met ten years later at the temp assignment I got in St. Paul, Minnesota.

ButĀ this is what many agnostics find terrifying about any religious faith, no matter how close or how far or how likely in terms of their acceptance. Well, what this agnostic fears, anyway. I’m so cute when I get all grand about my pronouncements, which may or may not apply to anyone living. But still! This scares the crap out of me!

Okay, the quote in question, which applies to two Mormons who murdered their brother’s wife and 15-month-old daughter for reasons of faith:

“I’ve always been interested in God and the Kingdom of God,” [Dan Lafferty] says. “It’s been the center of my focus since I was a young child.” And he is certain God intended for him to kill Brenda [age 25] and Erica Lafferty [age 15 months]: “It was like someone had taken me by the hand that day and led me comfortably through everything that happened. Ron [Lafferty’s brother] had received a revelation from God that these lives were to be taken. I was the one who was supposed to do it. And if God wants something to be done, it wil be done. You don’t want to offend Him by refusing to do His work.”

Wow.

There’s more here, that has nothing to do with Mormonism and everything to do with religion everywhere. Why does a force that propels some toward good then propel them toward total and utter evil?

This scares the crap out of me, as someone who stands mostly apart from the religious impulse whether it’s benign or malignant. What happens that makes the difference? What differentiates the nut from the simply devout? How can anyone who isn’t clear on religion – but embraces religion – be sure that he or she isn’t also embracing insanity without realizing it? I’m not saying it’s a given. I’m saying that the prospect freaks me out.

More on anxiety

I titled my last post “Anxiety” for a reason, although I never explained it. My coming-and-going approach to this blog is the result of many factors, but one of them is that I’m in the process of learning to cope with what it turns out is anxiety. Go figure. It’s not my favorite topic to discuss, but it seems fair to give readers an explanation for my long disappearances, and let’s just say that I’ve been having my good days and bad days.

Moving on, I’ve just heard about the production of The Golden Compass, a movie adapted from a book by the same name by Philip Pullman. The book is the first in a trilogy called “His Dark Materials.” I’ve read none of them, although they were recommended to me years ago by a friend of mine.

Looks like the movie is going to beĀ controversial.Ā This Baptist press article describes the book’s apparently anti-Christian theme.Ā Again, having not read the books, I’m in no position to discuss the reasonableness or lack thereof of opposition to the movie. But now I think I’m going to have to read the books.

Has anyone else read these? The movie comes out in about two weeks, and it’s intriguing to me that the producers of the movie have chosen to release the movie near Christmas. I can’t imagine that they’ve failed to tone down some of the potentially offensive stuff, but then again if the theme is prevalent it might be like trying to take the Christianity out of The Chronicles of Narnia.

Anxiety

I’ve been incommunicado again, the same way I’ve been incommunicado from my personal life. It’s a long story but I’m back, and I’m back in a more permanent way than before.

I’ve been trying to go to church, but I find that in order to find something a little different, I have to depart from my usual comfort zone. I have to go to a synagogue or a mosque or, I don’t know, a Church of Scientology service? Point being that it’s a rough gig, trying to be both agnostic and enterprising. šŸ™‚ This means that while I’m spiritually conservative, I’m trying to be spiritually adventurous. Yikes.

By the way, Jasper is still considerably more spiritually in tune with the world than I am. But he did growl at a couple of friends of mine last night for no apparent reason. This tells me that spiritual insight is not necessarily predictable. Or that my dog just gets nervous sometimes.