14 August 2007

cognitive dissonance, and other hobbies

Since I finished the last Harry, I've been reading two books: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, and The Faith Club by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner. Richard Dawkins has a website, and The Faith Club has a website. One might think that the faith women would be advocating for beliefs, and that the atheist man would be advocating against beliefs. One might be wrong.

I have a tremendous prejudice against evangelists, whether they are pushing religions, politics, dietary regimens, or schemes to simplify spelling. Evangelists are so invested in their path that they become ruthless, and they use fear or ridicule as bludgeons.

Will it surprise you to learn that I find Richard Dawkins so obnoxious that I can not bring myself to read his book for more than 20 minutes at a time? It's not that I don't agree with 99% of his points. I do, especially in an age where many of the candidates for president are all but punching each other out of the way to say "me! me! I'm a person of faith! Pick ME!" I do not want anyone's faith to influence public policy in any way - not in education, not in health care, not in defense (ESPECIALLY not in defense), not in subsidies for the arts. I want to be governed by science, logic, facts, and common sense. Period.

I agree with Dawkins about the natural world being enough cause for human awe and reverence without introducing a supernatural element. "As ever when we unweave a rainbow," he says, "it will not become less wonderful." I believe, as he does, that the founders of this country meant to create a completely secular state, and would be appalled to see how the introduction of faith has been warped (by some) to appear as if they would approve.

I guess I just can't stomach the evangelical tone he takes, his new "Out Campaign," and his desire to transform atheism into an organized influence. Do you know something? DO you know something? Then teach me. Don't use your eloquence, wit, and erudition to flog those who don't agree with you. Teach me science. Teach me logic. And show some compassion for those whom you believe are ignorant. For the love of God, play nice!

(I'll probably finish the book, and I'll probably agree with much of it, and I might even write more about it. However, I know I'll be happier with God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, because he will not evangelize.)

So, back to The Faith Club. I love it. The three women - a Muslim, a Jew, and a Christian - discuss and wrestle with their own beliefs, and challenge each others' beliefs. None of the three is an exemplar of her religion - in fact, each of them is somewhat apostate in her practices, beliefs, or connection to the religious community. All the better, for this utterly apostate Jewish agnostic moon-worshiping reader!

(I'm always fascinated by the interplay of politics and religion, and there's plenty of that in this book, too.)

So there it is, cognitive dissonance, feeling more at ease in the company of women whose beliefs are not mine than I am with a scientist whose world-view is mine. So it goes.

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In the last few days, I managed to foul up a hat, a scarf, and (almost) a pair of socks. I care about the socks, and I repaired the damage, but for a few days there, I thought the knitting police would knock on my door and confiscate my needles. Maybe I'm just tired, but when neither knitting nor reading lifts my spirits, something is awry. Have I mentioned that I loathe the summer? I loathe the summer.

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I love Ravelry.
I love Trader Joe's cranberry-oatmeal dunkers.

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"No snowflake falls in an inappropriate place" (Zen saying)


Paula said...

I really hate summer too.
It is making me miserable.
Not even Emerson is making me happy at the moment.
I feel so out of place during the summer months.
I don't even like the air-conditioning.
I miss real breathable air!

~But I love just about everything Trader Joes make!
We don't have one here and I have to wait to until we visit my in-laws in Cincinnati to go there.
My favorite is their chocolate covered orange gels and their cranberry orange oatmeal muffins oooh, they are to die for!
But I would like them better if it was Autumn already!

Paula said...

I just looked up to see were I was on the Ravelry list and I am #18069 in line. Yeah! :)
I might actually get my invite before the next election!

amy said...

I haven't read either book and likely don't have the attention span at the moment or in the foreseeable future, but I will file away the titles for some Later Time.

For a bit there my fingers felt all clumsy. It got better, though.

I hate winter. It's the lack of light. It affects me quite badly. So while I've been enjoying, these past few days, waking up a bit chilly in the morning, I'm dreading what I know is coming.

KnitNana said...

I'll add to your list that I want compassion in my leaders...
(We seem a bit shy of that these days)
Now. I think that just maybe the knitting gods are playing with us right now. I can't seem to knit anything but Clapotis (and even that has had it's problems)

I want so bad to have a Trader Joe's. Guess I'll have to accept my Ukropt's instead. (and that's not a bad thing)

And I love Ravelry, too!


Bridget said...

1. Summer sucks. I actually suffer from reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder, I think.

2. Trader Joe's has really good chocoloate chip dunkers,too. Yum.

3. Evangelism is dangerous. My mother used to say that the two most dangerous kinds of people were converted Christians and reformed smokers, because all they wanted to do was preach to you ...

4. Not only does summer suck, but we have no a/c at work, and of course can't open the windows. Along with hot flashes, it's a real treat let me tell you.

5. I'm much more likely to listen to someone talking about faith and religion if they are just *talking* about it to me, and I don't feel that they have an agenda to force me to accept their beliefs.

Now, I'm glad I got that all said ... ;-)

Becky said...

I left a religious group I had been totally invested in for twenty years because of the self-righteousness that spawns pushing your beliefs on other people. I hate when people think you really need to believe the same way they do.

I also hate when my knitting all goes bad at once. It always comes around, though. Hang in there.

Penny said...

ooh.. i'm beyond cranky right now. i'm blaming the weather. BLEAH.

You get 20 min per go w/dawkins? wow. at about 5 I want to throw the book. At 10 I do. So I returned it and will have to think of another way to try to read it without destroying other's property.

Ravelry rocks.

pixie girl said...

I totally agree with everything. Except summer - I can't stand to be cold, though I don't like a/c.

Pushy people, even those who are not pushing anything but my buttons, are really annoying. Evangelism scares me to death, and angers me further.

Donna Lee said...

I work in a building that is so cold that I open the windows to let the warm air in. I like summer, the long days and the light but by the end of Aug I am just tired and am ready to hunker down in my autumn nest and be left alone.

Carrie K said...

Oh, thanks. I'll check the Dawson book out of the library. True Believers of almost anything both scare me and get on my nerves.

Even global warming believers are starting to drive me nuts. It's a theory. It's highly likely it's a correct theory but science does not involve faith. Also last I heard, science THRIVED on naysayers and trials that went bad.

Happy Birthday!

Granny Smith said...

I just discovered your blog from its link on Peacock Blue (nonizamboni)and I am delighted with your ideas and observations. I actually liked the Dawkins book, although I think he is too insistent about proclaiming one's atheism.

I'm lucky to have TWO Trader Joes within easy driving distance. I particularly like their dark-chocolate covered ginger. Also the dark-chocolate covered expresso beans for times that I am too sleepy to get my caffeine in any other way.