A “sermon” in the broadest sense is a discourse on morality. And by morality I mean the rules of engagement in life – in other words the manual for living rightly (as opposed to wrongly). The incentive for living rightly – the carrot for following the rules in the manual – will of course be some sort of reward – heaven. The disincentive for disregarding the manual – living wrongly – will take the form of sort of punishment – hell. Virtue and vice represent the choices we face in approaching the rules. Virtue (following the rules) leads to heaven; and vice (disregarding the rules) leads to hell.
That’s also Stoicism in a nutshell. Follow the rules or suffer the consequences. Easy!
Well it’s easy I suppose if the rules can be found between the pages of an anointed Holy Book (and we believe in the “divine” character of those rules), and if we accept the premise that all this rule following really does have a pay day, and if we have faith that the threat of some serious hell-time is more-or-less guaranteed for not sticking with this morality program. But what are the rules, and what is heaven, and where is hell?
excuse me if I use the “F” word often in this review. I realize that
many people are afraid of that word and are disgusted by its frequent
use in contemporary letters. Even tough-minded scientists like Jerry
Coyne are quick to correct themselves if the “F” word sneaks out. In a
recent Point of Inquiry podcast, Coyne, in talking about his book Why Evolution is True,
says “most evolutionists take it [the evidence for evolution] on faith
… well, not faith…”. He immediately corrects himself and
restructures the sentence. It was as if he had used the other “f” word
in a church or mosque. Faith is the “F” word that people either love or
Almost 160 years after Charles Darwin publicized his groundbreaking theory on the development of life, Americans are still arguing about evolution. In spite of the fact that evolutionary theory is accepted by all but a small number of scientists, it continues to be rejected by many Americans. In fact, about one-in-five U.S. adults reject the basic idea that life on Earth has evolved at all. And roughly half of the U.S. adult population accepts evolutionary theory, but only as an instrument of God’s will.
NEW EVOLUTION SURVEY SHOWS THAT WHILST THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN UK AND CANADA ACCEPT EVOLUTIONARY SCIENCE, NON-RELIGIOUS AND ATHEIST INDIVIDUALS SHOW SIMILAR DOUBTS ABOUT THE ORIGINS OF HUMANS AND HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS AS RELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL INDIVIDUALS.
Two personal notes before writing about the book: first, I want to say it is a beautifully written, often heartbreaking work that should be read slowly with pauses to consider and think about the overwhelming emotional response created by the beautiful construction and words of the book; and second, I remember warmly the evening long ago when Michael Ondaatje gave a reading at Malaspina University- College in Nanaimo, BC, and then joined a few of us at my home for discussion and refreshments. He made a lasting impression on our teenaged daughter as a few of us sat on the floor and discussed his reading and importantly – legumes! I do not remember why legumes, but our daughter remembers the legume discussion and confirmed my recollection.
Wikipedia reports: Natalie Wynn is an American YouTube personality and director who specializes in comedic and educational videos about gender, race, politics, philosophy, and social justice on her channel named ContraPoints. Wynn’s videos have been praised for their use of lighting, costume, and nuanced, ironic sense of humour.Wikipedia
This is the subtle difference between Wynn and many of her prominent YouTube counterparts on the right—the ones who summon their opponents to the arena of debate, hungry for victory and for the cheers of their supporters. Contra does her makeup, dons her pearls, and invites her opponents and her viewers into the parlor for cocktails and conversation. The talk isn’t quite a heart-to-heart. Contra’s burns are scorching, her satire precise, and many of her arguments reduce her opponents’ positions to rubble. But somehow, when she does it, the effect is humanizing rather than bullying. She’s flirting, not fighting.