Friday, January 27, 2012

January 27, 1945

The train arrived in the middle of the night, so we were greeted by very bright lights shining down on us. We were greeted by soldiers, SS men, as well as women. We were greeted by dogs and whips, by shouting and screaming, orders to try to empty the train, by confusion... There is no way to describe your first coming to Auschwitz.
—Fritzie Weiss Fritzshall

And they said, “From now on you do not answer by your name. Your name is your number.” And the delusion, the disappointment, the discouragement that I felt, I felt like I was not a human person anymore.
—Lilly Appelbaum Lublin Malnik

In January 27, 1945 the Soviet army marched into Auschwitz-Birkenau and liberated over 7,000 prisoners. These people should have never been there in the first place but they were, because a group of human beings decided to do this to another group of human beings. Today is the anniversary of the liberation of the camp and it is International Holocaust Remembrance Day
(Click here for details)

I don't have much to say (the stories of those who perished and those who survived this horror are much more valuable than anything I could come up with) so I will end this with the following words and a personal thought. The following comes from "The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and it is a reference that was used many times by French Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas:
Each of us is guilty before everyone for everyone, and I more than the others...

My dear reader, before we are accused of one more charge in the court of human history, let us never forget those who died and let us remain vigilant against the forces of bigotry, and hate.



Thursday, January 26, 2012

God is my imaginary BFF

God is my imaginary I'm told. In the Facebook wall of one of my friends I saw this story from the Denver Post:
The Boulder Atheists announced Monday that the group has purchased space on three billboards in Denver and Colorado Springs to post messages that read, “God is an imaginary friend. Choose reality, it will be better for all of us.” Boulder Atheists co-founder Marvin Straus said billboards have proven an effective way for the organization to communicate with the public. He said recruiting more atheists isn’t the goal.

“It’s not like we’re evangelical atheists,” Straus said. “We don’t care whether people are believers or non-believers. Our main goal is separation of church and state. The goal of the billboard is to encourage a dialogue.”

Here is the design of the three billboards set up in Denver and Colorado Springs:
There have been several reactions to this story from Christians circles in Colorado. One reaction was from Glenn T. Stanton, the director for Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, CO. Stanton thinks that this is "bad manners". He does not agree with the Boulder Atheists's claims that their ad is intended to spark dialogue with people of faith on the existence of God. To him you don't draw people into conversation by poking fun of the beliefs (for more details click here).

A different reaction came from Rev. Roger Wolsey, the director of the Wesley Foundation, United Methodist Campus Ministry at C.U.- Boulder. As a Christian he thinks that God can handle this, and so can we. He is actually thankful for the ad because he thinks that there is no such thing as a faith that doesn’t have times of doubt. If a faith can’t handle people claiming that it’s B.S., then it isn’t much of a faith. (for more details click here

As to my own reaction the ad doesn't bother me for many reasons. For one, I have seen many ads from my Atheists brothers and sisters in the past, for example "Millions are good without God" and "You KNOW they're all SCAMS". To these I can reply: 1) Millions are good without God AND with God, 2) If I am part of the "scam", I am still waiting for my scam checks.

Also, we should remember history to know that Christianity has been attacked in many ways going back to days of Celsus and his work The True Word, to many of the works of Friedrich Nietzche, and lately the books by the so called "New Atheists" like Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens. My Christian brothers and sisters should also remember that we have been attacking each other for centuries and that it was not that long ago that heresy could mean being killed by a mob or being legally executed for being the "wrong" kind of Christian. These days where I live at the least I can write this blog and not worry about three guys wearing red robes and pointy hats telling me how they will poke me with soft cushions (Yes, I am a Monty Python fan).

So, according to many of my Atheist friends, some of them right here at Purdue (yes, :) you know who you are) I have an imaginary friend that, depending on the day, can also be called "Sky Daddy", "Sky Wizard", "Sky Gandalf", etc. According to some of them I don't need this "God" to live a "good life" and it appears that I am reaching the "right conclusions" in my life for the "wrong reasons", and all of this because I have faith in this imaginary BFF. Roman Catholic theologian Karl Rahner thought that faith puts squarely before us only the deep roots of this life which we would otherwise overlook or shut out. Faith to me is not believing in 'something without evidence'; to me faith is about a state of being and in my case a state of being in Christ.

I don't embrace the state of being found in faith because I want to escape from life and at the same time tell others they are "wrong" for not believing in God; I embrace it because I want to be in touch with the radical character of freedom and the responsibility found in life and everything in it: freedom, responsibility, love, hope, guilt, and forgiveness, not because I "know better" but because life DEALS every day with issues of freedom, responsibility, love, guilt, and forgiveness. And I do this not because I am afraid that "Sky Daddy will spank me" if I do not or, because if I don't I would go to some afterlife where I would be forced to listen to Justin Bieber for eternity. I do this because I feel driven to do so. And if you are an atheist my dear reader  maybe you have something to teach me about life, and hopefully I have something to teach you.

So, my reaction to the billboard ad and to my Atheist brothers and sisters is this:, let us work together (like in the past) to help our fellow human beings and, God is saying that we should get coffee and you're paying for it...what a terrible scam :)