Foolish versions of serious opinions exist. Yes, the foolish versions were derived from the serious opinion. But every serious opinion has its foolish versions. There is a fine line between a “reductio ad absurdum” argument (where a ridiculous conclusion implies a ridiculous opinion) and a “straw man” argument (where an argument is mischaracterized as advocating something it does not, or a weaker version of the actual argument is refuted). Primary sources are great. If you want to hate on “irreligion,” please make fun of Nietzsche. Do so after reading his work yourself. That’s a dare. If you are a religious person with a brain (and a heart), you will find statements you actually like in his work. That you resonate with. Non-religious people will probably be offended by it too. I promise that’s also true for the Quran and the Bible, and the people who are supposed to like or hate those texts. Same with the Upanishads, the Analects, the Bhagavad Gita, the Iliad, what have you. I promise.
Please stop posting about Westboro Baptist as if they represent the Bible well. Please stop posting about Bill Nye or Neil Degrasse Tyson as if they represent robust philosophical atheism. Please stop posting about Ken Ham as if he is the only orthodox understanding of Creationism. Please do not reduce conservatism to “The Return of Kings Blog.” Please do not reduce liberalism to the “College Liberal” meme. That’s easy. Hate is easy. Whining is easy.
Put down your magazine. Read a genuine religious classic. Or a genuine non-religious one (from before about 1500 AD for both, plz). Read some traditional proverbs from various cultures. Any of these can be found on the internet too, just google it. Narratives and proverbs are easiest to digest. Don’t try to soak it all in at once. Listen. Find Rest. Pray. Try it. Then talk about what you learned.
No, I don’t think these texts are equally true, and I do think truth has consequences. Eternal ones. I’m a Christian. I’m still asking you to read around.
Go to a town council meeting. Or a school board meeting. Listen. Just listen.
Go to a soup kitchen. Regularly. I aspire to this. But once is a start.
Make something useful with your hands. A birdhouse. A centerpiece for the dinner table.
Pay attention to the weather forecast, and then pick an evening to drive until you can see stars. Turn everything off and be a person.
Let me know how it went. I’m hoping to do stars and soup pretty soon here.
Dan is fantastic. While you wait for him to become the greatest preacher EVER and write several books on complex communications theory married to heavy theology, you can follow him at Git Yer Bearings…if you dare.