On what has happened to North American Christian congregational singing

The one thing I  personally found valuable about the churches in which I grew up, apart from the very few friendships that have lasted since then, isn’t part of any church I’ve visited in the last thirty years.  They used to have hymnals in which the music to the songs was written out in proper notation, in four part harmony.  Most people who grew up in that tradition absorbed by “osmosis”, if not by study, the concept of harmony and gained some idea of what is signified by those funny marks that aren’t letters of the alphabet.  In many cases, there was intricacy and beauty to the music.  The singing of such hymns could sound glorious if the choir or congregation was motivated to put some oomph into it.

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“Islamophobia: We need to accept the ‘other’”

From time to time, I post comments on news articles on The Globe and Mail news site.  The G&M lets people rate comments with a simple “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”.  My comments generally tend not to be rated very highly but, for some reason, I recently got the most highly-rated comment on a particular story.  The article is titled, “Islamophobia: We need to accept the ‘other’“.

The comment I posted is as follows:

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Pascal’s Wager

Pascal’s Wager? Really? Has anyone who’s actually thought about it recently for more than five seconds taken it seriously?

Admittedly, arguing against Pascal’s Wager is cheap entertainment, like using the broad side of a barn for target practice. It’s dead easy. But doesn’t that make you wonder all the more why such a bad argument persists to this day?

I suggest that it’s because many believers who make a point of trying to defend their beliefs have not been equipped to argue rationally.  They don’t generally teach critical thinking in Sunday School (that would not be the way to put butts in pews, after all).  It seems to me that it’s an argument used by believers who are less interested in discovering what is most likely true than they are in defending their beliefs against the shocking reality that some people don’t believe as they do and, even worse, that some people think that god-belief is wrong-headed.

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Father’s Day, 2011

Father’s Day.  Although I haven’t fathered any children, I’m a grampa and our granddaughter spent the day with us, as did my wife’s younger sister.  I enjoy cooking so I celebrated the day by preparing barbecued t-bone steaks, fried onions and mushrooms seasoned with cumin as well as salt and pepper, baked potatoes, and steamed carrots.  Delicious.  My steak was just on the rare side of medium rare, while the others chose to have theirs medium-well.

My sister phoned to talk while I was peeling carrots.  She lives a sixteen hour drive away, so we don’t see each other often anymore.  She called because she was missing our dad, who died about five-and-a-half years ago.  I’d been thinking about phoning her for the same reason.  We had a good long chat, catching up on things.

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Stephen Fry on the character of gods

This man is such a wonderful speaker.

Harvard Humanists Stephen Fry 2 22 2011 Chapter 5

“The Greeks instinctively understood that, if there were gods, if there were supreme beings, it follows as the night the day that they are capricious, willful, mean, childish, and inconsistent. That is true whether it’s a slew of gods on Olympus or it’s one monolithic god in a notional numinous nowhere such as monotheists believe.

“There is no possible way that anybody could examine this universe and say that, if there is a god, he’s entirely good and charming. We only have to say, “bone cancer in children” to ask who the hell this god thinks he is and what he thinks he’s doing.

“There’s a whole branch of futile theology devoted to justifying the ways of god to man. It’s known as theodicy and to read it is to read a comic strip. You can’t justify some of the horrors that happen but you can if you if you imagine that, were there a god, he is, as I say, capricious, mean, malicious, and appalling.”

– Stephen Fry, in his acceptance speech on receiving the 2011 lifetime achievement award from the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University.

I think that pretty much covers it.

Just another “religion of peace” comment on my YouTube channel

A YouTube user named kenzaki777 posted a brilliant bit of prose as a comment on my YouTube channel yesterday.  All grammar and punctuation is in the original.

Hey you ,,

Do you think that’s right when you made a video about Muhammad ? ! Do you think you are right when you put bad picture , and bad words about Muhammad and Allah ? ,

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