New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted
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Suspending Disbelief

November 06, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, David Swanson

‘God Made Me an Atheist…’

by David Swanson

Peter Boghossian’s A Manual for Creating Atheists is a curious and ultimately very valuable book.

It’s curious because it doesn’t make much of a case — or at least not the sort of case I would have liked — for why we should create atheists.

It’s valuable because, if you believe we’d be better off with more atheists, this is a remarkable tool for accomplishing that goal.

I don’t view sloppy thinking as a great evil in itself.  It doesn’t offend me the way hunger and lack of medicine and Hellfire missiles offend me.  So, I look for the argument — which I think can be made — that sloppy thinking has serious results, or that belief in a god leads to a lack of responsibility, or that belief in eternal life diminishes efforts to improve real lives.  This book does not focus on those arguments.

Boghossian points to abstinence-only sex-ed, bans on same-sex marriage, teaching Creationism, corporal punishment in schools, and other offenses in the United States, as well as pointing to various more-severe abuses by the Taliban, as the undesirable results of theism.  But, with the possible exception of Creationism, these things could continue without theism or be ended while maintaining theism. (more…)

Living with Reverence

November 01, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Robert C. Koehler

Believing in Something More Sacred than Money

by Robert C. Koehler

“To all of our atheist friends: Thank God you’re wrong.”

Move over, We Buy Ugly Houses.com and Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa. Here was religious faith on a billboard, refuting non-belief in letters three feet high. I was visiting Los Angeles, driving with a friend along La Cienega Boulevard, when this king-size ad for religious certainty smacked us in the eye.

Turns out that Answers in Genesis, an evangelical organization with money to spend, took the God debate to billboards this month in New York and Los Angeles. They were pushing back against a group called the American Atheists, who at Christmas time last year sponsored a billboard featuring images of Jesus and Santa Claus with the words: “Keep the Merry, dump the myth.” (more…)

Lifting the Tent Flap

September 20, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: John L. Murphy, Politics

Exploring the Impact and Legacy of the Occupy Movement

by John L. Murphy

At the outset, I asked myself: “Why a subtitled ‘apocalypse’?” It derives from “the lifting of a veil,” so when a fresh revelation appears it transforms the past as well as the present; then there’s no going back, only forward. Fresh from finishing a study of attempts to verify the divine presence, God in Proof (2012), Nathan Schneider, jittery and curious, reports “notes” from the revelations emanating from Occupy Wall Street in the late summer of 2011. Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse (University of California Press, 2013) investigates an energy more tangible than most theology — yet sharing the spirited, mass appeal of what may elude those less fervent.

Idealistic enough to cheer on the Occupy protests, realistic enough to catalogue their failures, Schneider brings the same alert witness and affable analysis that his book on belief featured. As with any cabal of devotees, Occupy began with commitment by a spellbound few. Zuccotti Park, rechristened by the encampment with its pre-corporate name as Liberty Square, “was a place especially conducive to those of us with obsessive tendencies, who like to be consumed in a given interest or project to the exclusion of all else. There, the god of ordinary life was dead, resurrected in the business of self-reliance.” (more…)

Justice Fast

August 19, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Pat LaMarche, Politics

Clergy Members Take Action on Behalf of Gitmo Detainees

by Pat LaMarche

The five pillars of Islam are pilgrimage, alms giving, profession of faith, prayer and fasting. And the last Christian Beatitude promises, “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Perhaps that’s why it’s so fitting that I’ve partnered with a minister to join the Clergy Gitmo Justice Fast. Because I’m not a member of the clergy — not by a long shot — I can’t sign up on my own.

The Gitmo Clergy Fast calls on ordained clergy — of any religion — to do a water-only fast one day for one prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. There are 166 prisoners, so there needs to be 166 clergy. Even though I’m a dyed-in-the-wool confirmed agnostic, I’m still horrified by the U.S. indefinite detention of ‘terrorist suspects’ and I wanted to participate. (more…)

Sacred Activism

July 10, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, John L. Murphy, Politics

Occupying Spirituality, Evolving Dharma

by John L. Murphy

Two books appearing this autumn connect “sacred activism” with principled, peaceful opposition to the dominant political and economic — as well as religious — system. Two years after Occupy Wall Street and hundreds of encampments and a few strikes, while the American prominence of the movement has faded, worldwide if scattered resistance continues. Focusing on domestic possibility, Matthew Fox and Adam Bucko in conversation relate their stories and create an agenda in Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation (Berkeley: North Atlantic, Sept. 3, 2013). Jay Michaelson shares their ideal, if from an arguably more specific perspective, as his title Evolving Dharma: Meditation, Buddhism, and the Next Generation of Enlightenment (Berkeley: North Atlantic, Oct. 15, 2013) indicates. This review explores their intersections, and summarizes their visionary themes, beginning with the Occupy book. (more…)

No Home Anywhere

July 05, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Guest Author

Muslim Women Search for Justice, Opportunity

by Rebecca Martin

While some say that American Muslim women are empowered because they are American, on the other side of the globe in Saudi islamic woman 350 Muslim Women: No Home AnywhereArabia, their sisters struggle with an issue that’s at the heart of their community: living with the rights already given to women in the Koran and by the teachings of Mohammed.

That’s why women here felt Islamic justice was finally coming home, when on April 13, Arwa Al-Hejaili became the first woman lawyer granted a license to train for court appearances. Would the guardianship rule — the unwritten law that requires Saudi women to seek permission from husbands, fathers, or brothers to travel, open a bank account, and apply for jobs — go next? (more…)

Frozen Prairie

February 25, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Brian Terrell, Community, Family, Politics

Letter from a Drone Protester’s Jail

by Brian Terrell

Greetings from the Federal Prison Camp in Yankton, South Dakota!  As of this writing, I am two months into a six month sentence imposed due to my protest of war crimes committed by remote control from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri against the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Betsy accompanied me here to Yankton on November 29, and that evening the Emmaus House Catholic Worker community, Beth Preheim, Michael Sprong and Dagmar Hoxie, hosted an evening of music, good food and good company to see me off.  Activists from around the Midwest attended, including some sisters from the Benedictine monastery here.

In the morning after a great breakfast and Gospel prayer, Betsy and Dagmar and Michael, along with Renee Espeland and Elton Davis, Catholic Workers from Des Moines, and Jerry Ebner, a Catholic Worker from Omaha, walked a “last mile” with me to the gate of the prison where I expect to remain until the end of May. (more…)


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