New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

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…)

Speaking of Love…

February 20, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Jennifer Browdy

An Unlikely Environmental Evangelist

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

I was not raised in any religion, nor do I follow any religious practices now.  I don’t believe in God as a benevolent white man in the sky, nor do I believe that one needs to sit in a particular building, listening to a particular preacher, to reach out to the divine.

But I have always felt a deep spiritual connection to the natural world.  When I was 8 or 9, I used to go out into the woods and sit alone in my “spot,” which was a circle of mossy stones at the top of a big stone ridge, ringed by maples and centered around a grassy glade.  It was a small circle, no bigger than 10 feet in diameter.  I would just sit there and look and listen to the birds in the trees above me, the small insects on patrol in the grass, feeling the wind ruffling against my face and a kind of inner exultation and delight that I can only describe as religious ecstasy.

No one taught me to do this, and it wasn’t until much later, reading personal narratives by indigenous elders, that I was able to put this early spiritual connection with nature into a broader polytheistic cultural framework. (more…)

Peace and the Spirit

July 08, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Kent Shifferd, Politics

Truth, Power, and the Ultimate Ground of Being

by Kent Shifferd

Treaties, non-aggression pacts, techniques of conflict resolution (e.g., nonviolent communication, reflective listening, mutual gains bargaining), institutional structures for the control of interstate violence (e.g., UN, ICC), disarmament schemes, peace studies curricula — all are necessary to creating a lasting peace; but they are just the mechanics, the tools of peace. They can lie there on the bench or they can be picked up and put to use.

But they are useless without the Spirit, that difficult-to-describe-in-words something which, when you see or hear it, you instantly recognize its presence. It’s the difference between me droning on in a classroom about the second START Treaty and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s voice ringing out, “I have a dream today!” Close your eyes for a moment and recall the sound of that to your mind… (more…)

Beyond Belief

May 26, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Guest Author

Finding Common Ground on Climate Change

by Rick Chamberlin

“They loved each other beyond belief; She was a strumpet, he was a thief.” — Henrich Heine, “New Poems,” 1797-1856

The vocabulary of religion is not serving us well when it comes to battling — or even discussing — climate change.

Recently a friend sent me a link to a video of Karen Armstrong accepting the TED prize in 2008. In her speech the former nun turned world-renowned scholar and author had this to say:

“Belief is only a very recent religious enthusiasm. It surfaced only in the West in about the 17th century. The word ‘belief’ itself originally meant to love, to prize, to hold dear. In the 17th century, it narrowed its focus … to include, to mean, an intellectual assent to a set of propositions. Credo, ‘I believe,’ … did not mean ‘I accept certain credal articles of faith’. It meant ‘I commit myself. I engage myself’…. So if religion is not about believing things, what is it about? What I’ve found across the board is that religion is about behaving differently. Instead of deciding whether or not you believe in God, first you do something, you behave in a committed way, and then you begin to understand the truths….” (more…)

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    Since launching in 2010, we featured many inspiring writers on cutting-edge issues. In times of escalating crises, we sought to remain proactive rather than perpetually reactive, to not give more power to those who would co-opt the agenda, and to try turning visions in practice. We can critique what is and offer insights into what could be, without becoming embittered in the process. We weren't partisan, but we'll always stand on the side of those who desire peace with justice. We're not posting anymore new content as of 2017, but our archive will remain up and you can still find us on social media. We'll see you in the interwebs...
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