Finding God

I promised myself I’d write this entry a while back.

The baby is in bed. The house is picked up. My husband took my son to the movies (we have a drive-in theater, if you can believe it.)

I actually have a bit of time.

Light.

Light. Gratuitous baby picture.

So.

*sighs*

What do you do when you “find” God?

Do you do anything at all?

What happened is this: I read The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism by Edward Feser last summer.

I’d read The Experience of God by David Bentley Hart, per the recommendation of someone on Reddit, and it wasn’t particularly convincing. Then I realized that I was disappointed the book hadn’t really made much of an impact on me. This was supposedly one of the best arguments out there, and I felt like he’d spent 800 pages vehemently (and verbosely (dude clearly never encountered a 40 word idea he couldn’t stretch out to 400)) arguing for a sort of Spinozan panentheistic goddish-notion of uplift. I mean, I can’t argue against the version of God that he seemed to be describing. I just couldn’t see, at all, how you get from “Well, but, the fact of being, particular to working in a flow state” to “Definitely a God, you rubes, muah ha ha ha.” Which was definitely Hart’s position.

It’s hard not to believe in being. Well, unless you’re totally crazy, and those guys certainly exist. But is being actually God?

Someone else suggested Feser as “the best” book defending the existence of God. I thought I would give it a shot based on a blog post he’d put up.

When I finished it, I sat down on the bed and told my husband, “I think this guy actually made God logically inevitable.” He told me that was very unlikely. I told him that probably needed to take a break from philosophy.

So, at least he knows who to blame.

My first thought was that in the fog of teething-related sleep deprivation and worry over massive wildfires, I had somehow read it incorrectly.

I am going to have to re-read it.

God isn’t logical. God is a feeling. You feel God, generally around other people who are feeling Goddish. Right?

You don’t have some snarky, Republican philosophy teacher from Pasadena City College talk you into being a believer via your e-reader using logic.

Do you?


My husband and I have been going through a philosophy phase. He had always wanted to know more about the history of philosophy, but he’d never really had the chance to study it. I’d been on a big quest for rationalizing ethical realism, mostly because internet atheists, in repeated fits of Nazi-ish eugenics-promoting “reason” and “logic,” totally and utterly grossed me out. I’d had enough. I wasn’t really sure what, specifically, I was after, but I knew that it was… the opposite of eugenics.

It’s something we talk about a lot–all these news things we have learned about philosophy.

What do you do when you think maybe, just maybe, you now believe in God? When you haven’t actually had the big God Experience that everyone else, out there in American #soBlessed land seems to have?

You sit on it a long time. Months.

Then you tell your husband.

He scoffs a bit.

Then, apparently, you tell the internet.

Then you brace yourself.

Because you already know all the arguments that you used to use on the internet.

You know what your friends think about that kind of thing.

You worry that some people are going to think you’re dumb, now.


The truth is, I keep waiting for it to pass. As if I am going through some sort of God phase, and any day now, it will end.

I thought God was a feeling that everyone else was in on, and that I just was just constitutionally incapable of having by simple accident of wiring. To be clear, I still think a lot of people do have a the God feeling–the church high. I have experienced the church high in two places: raves and at a few UU services in Texas.  I went to raves first, though, so when I got the same feeling at UU, I thought I had finally figured the whole thing out: event related brain chemistry that happens in a variety of locations. Induced euphoria. God was a high.

I come from the Bible belt. I have heard a lot of people talk about joy and bliss and grace.

I haven’t heard much about “contingency” and “causes” and “forms.”

It never occurred to me that God isn’t something that can be merely felt. That’s usually the language people use. They feel God.

This isn’t that.

So, since it isn’t simply experiential, which would be basically impossible to refute, I keep waiting to be talked out of it. I have read that the big flaw in Feser’s book (aside from the snark) is that he’s fighting straw atheists, same as he says that atheists are arguing about a straw God. This seems reasonable, but I haven’t figured out which of these atheists is supposed to be sporting the fancy nuanced version of atheism.

And if I cannot be talked out if it, then I am not sure what, if anything, I do next.

 

Rebirth

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This thing is gigantic. Huge.

I’m feeling better.

Depression is such a weird thing.

I never really understand how bad I get, until it’s actually over. I don’t really know how deep the hole was, until I am out of it, peering back down.

Things that have happened since last fall:  the baby turned one. The drought is somewhat alleviated. People have died. People have gotten really ill.

Life. Life has happened.

Sweet girl.

Sweet girl.

And I ended a board that I’d owned since 2008.

I have a bit more time now. Less stress.

And now spring has sprung.

We take "hikes." It requires equipment.

We take “hikes.” It requires equipment.

The rain has been such a huge help. When my sister-in-law visited last summer, in between the two really, really big fires, she said we all had “fire face” the same way that people in the Bay Area had “rent face.”

I think, maybe, I’ve gotten a small taste of what makes those Dorothea Lange photos so compelling.

It feels like the first time we’ve seen lush, vibrant green in ages.

You, too, can bokeh.

You, too, can bokeh.

Everything seems a little more manageable. We can get through another year.

Cross your fingers.

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Free Adventure Time Printables

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I made these for my son’s room.

adventure-time-printables

We are big on Adventure Time around here. My husband and I are probably more into it than the kid. He likes it because it’s silly and exciting, and it has a lot of crazy music.

The adults in the house are still sort of surprised it’s on Cartoon Network.

These can all be found in pdf form using this link.

Rain

The lake is full.

This is a huge deal after all these drought years.

And when I say full, I mean full.

All the rain means that things are green. Very, very green.

Really, I just hope that we don’t have a repeat of last year’s fire season.

It’s supposed to rain more this week, too.

Review: Submission

I spent three months reading Kristen Lavransdatter.  Sometime in the middle of the third book I went from reading for pleasure, to being in a grudge match with fictional medieval Norway.

I needed to cleanse my brain palate.

Something ultra modern. Something short.

Michel Houellebecq’s Submission sounded both short and ultra modern.

soumission

I saw some ridiculous article about it in the Guardian, shortly after the Paris attacks. It’s a book that has been widely condemned as sexist and Islamophobic, written by a singularly miserable-looking troll of a Frenchman.

The dude looks like he was born smoking and sneering.

I figured at the very least I could build up a good frothy fountain of ultra modern outrage.

Instead, I got a book that is strangely haunting.

The main character/apparent author insertion, named François for maximum on-the-nose everyman impact, is thoroughly detestable. Humbert Humbert detestable, really. He is the single-serving, monadic manchild we’ve been warned about. He lives a life of fleeting pleasures-food, booze, and sex. His only real friend is a mental projection of J. K. Huysmans formed from his own fannish, academic narcissism.

This dude is basically the embodiment of the internet-based postmodern personality. Isolated, emotionally stunted, obsessive. Ultimately really boring.

Which is why the book is haunting. As terrible as François is, I’d like to think he doesn’t really exist. Or, if he does exists, it’s just in the figure of Michel Houellebecq.

Ten million Redditors beg to differ.

This guy is everywhere. It’s not that he’s stupid. He’s just hollow.

The book is set in 2022, and the story set during an Islamist takeover of France. The politics are interesting, I suppose, but it’s not particularly realistic.

The argument, it seems, is that Islam is ascendant, because it is, theoretically, anchored in meaning. Tradition. A place in the cosmic order.

However, the book ends on such a cynical note, that it’s nearly breathtaking. For all the critiquing of post-modernity and it’s failures, this version of savior Islam, in the early states of it’s “Eurabian Empire” proves that Islam succumbs to meaningless hedonism as easily as anything else.

Basically, the argument appears to be that there is just no escaping nihilism in the 21st century. Not for François, the Islamic world, for the West, or anyone else. Even if Islam “wins,” it loses.