The House of Homophones

June 4, 2019

Karen Turner at Vox reports on a major survey that looks at how the people in an increasingly secularized world are finding meaning and community and “filling the void” left when they no longer participate in a church:

Friends and family were the top source of community for respondents, at 80 and 78 percent, respectively, but religion and spirituality were the next most common. … Following closely behind religion were the 42 percent of people who identified work as a place of community. Only around 18 percent of people identified politics and political activism as a communal source for them. … Exercise classes were the activity that most people attended once a week or more [to find purpose or community], with gaming (defined as video game or board game) meetups ranking next. Recreational sports team games, hanging out at a local bar, or a discussion group or meetup for a hobby all tied for third.


At 56 percent, a slim majority of people considered themselves very or somewhat religious. But many more considered themselves “spiritual” — 70 percent of participants said they were very or somewhat spiritual. Of those surveyed, about a third were Christian, while 8 percent considered themselves atheist or agnostic and 19 percent identified as no religion in particular.

Former CFI chief Ron Lindsay returns to the blog to look at the calls for Trump’s impeachment through the lens of…wait, I wanna make sure I have this right…Catholic doctrine. Trust me, it makes sense:

[T]he Catholic Church’s just war doctrine holds that resort to armed force is justified only if four conditions are met: the harm caused by the unjust aggressor is grave; other means of avoiding the harm are ineffective or impractical; the use of force in resisting the aggressor must not produce more harm than good; and, importantly, there must be a reasonable prospect of success. In other words, force isn’t justified if it’s impossible to win.

You see where he’s going?

Sigh in despair as I tell you that a majority of Americans, 56 percent, say they are against students learning about “Arabic numerals.” Mustafa Akyol at the New York Times laments the tribalism of both the West and Islam that leads to this kind of ignorance of history:

Western conservatives retreat to tribalism themselves when they deny the wisdom in, and the contributions of, sources that are not Judeo-Christian. The third great Abrahamic religion, Islam, also had a hand in the making of the modern world, and honoring that legacy would help establish a more constructive dialogue with Muslims.

Of course, we Muslims ourselves have a big question to answer: Why was our civilization once so creative, and why have we lost that golden age?

Okay now you can have some good news. Ex-naturopath Britt Marie Hermes announces that Colleen Huber, the “cancer quack” suing Hermes for defamation in Germany, has lost her suit. Hermes writes at her website:

Huber filed suit in September 2017 over my opinions about the dubious treatments and human subjects research at her cancer clinic in Tempe, Arizona (USA), and also over my suspicions that Huber was cybersquatting domains in my name. … The court concluded that Huber is a public figure as a so-called prominent naturopath in the USA and is therefore not immune from criticism. The court also recognized that naturopathy is a controversial field, especially for alternative treatments for cancer. My criticisms of Huber are therefore entirely legal. Furthermore, the court determined that Huber’s points of contention are my personal opinions and are not malicious.

Andrew Sullivan reviews George Will’s new book The Conservative Sensibility for the New York Times:

He is … a lover of change, of restlessness and of innovation — when it comes spontaneously from below, rather than clumsily from above. … He believes in no God, describing himself, with acuity, as “an amiable, low-voltage atheist” and, in an absorbing chapter on religion, makes the case that “not only can conservatives be thoroughly secular, but that a secular understanding of cosmology and of humanity’s place in the cosmos accords with a distinctively conservative sensibility.” By that cosmology he means the spontaneous order of an evolving earth in an expanding universe. Darwin’s breakthrough in human consciousness was the idea that change is always and everywhere and has no ultimate direction, and that no single mind, even the mind of God, can direct or even control any of this, and shouldn’t even try. The political lesson Will draws from this is telling. Letting things be is far saner than attempting to wrestle everything into a single theory, let alone marshal it all toward a specific end.

Damon Linker at The Week says that in the age of Trump, “at least some intellectuals on the religious right are in the process of talking themselves into tearing down American democracy.” Yeah, we noticed. Also:

If the religious right isn’t prepared to accept its minority status and settle for availing itself of the religious-liberty protections afforded by the liberal state as an adequate fallback position in the culture war, it will end up tempted to abandon democracy.

It will be tempted, in other words, to throw its weight behind any political figure or movement, no matter how dubious its democratic legitimacy, that promises to do away with the liberalism it increasingly views as its mortal enemy.

The Southern Baptist Convention will consider setting up a committee for reviewing how churches handle sexual abuse allegations and whether those churches should be disaffiliated.

Everyone knows that money influences politics. Well now science knows it too. FiveThirtyEight reports:

If anything, what’s surprising here is that we didn’t already know this for sure. Despite the topic being the subject of vigorous legal and political debate, despite the fact that most Americans believe it’s happening and see it as a problem, despite the testimony of politicians themselves, decades of research haven’t been able to conclusively prove that money buys influence.

Harriet Hall lambastes the claims of at-home lab testing service EverlyWell, saying their tests simply don’t make sense. Look, I think calling your product “EverlyWell” already shows a paucity of good sense. And taste.

Ken Ham, the guy who believes humans and dinosaurs hung out, thinks the flat-earthers are stupid. BEHOLD THE LACK OF SELF-AWARENESS:

It simply isn’t taught in Scripture, and the science doesn’t support it (although, sadly, many Christians are being convinced by cherry-picked data that only shows part of the whole story and out of context).

The editorial board of the Portland Press Herald is pleased about the Navy’s stance on reporting UFOs, and muses on First Contact:

The size and age of our galaxy makes the presence of other life forms mathematically possible. If some civilization could reach us, they would certainly be more technologically advanced.

And such a meeting wouldn’t be unprecedented in world history. When geography was enough to keep peoples unaware of each other’s presence, something like alien meetings occurred regularly. The Romans were scared of the 7-foot-tall, pale white beings who lived in the forests to their far north. Eastern Europeans thought they were being attacked by an alien force when the Mongols first swept through. And what is the European settlement of the New World but the collision of two vastly different worlds previously unknown to each other?

Maybe with a little preparation, humans — and whoever else — can get it right this time.

Ha! I mean, ahem, yeah, I hope so.

Professor Neil Gemmell from the University of Otago in New Zealand has been studying Loch Ness, looking for traces of DNA in the water, and with a formal announcement about the findings coming next month, gets all cryptic:

Is there anything deeply mysterious? Hmm. It depends what you believe. Is there anything startling? There are a few things that are a bit surprising. What we’ll have achieved is what we set out to do, which is document the biodiversity of Loch Ness in June 2018 in some level of detail. We’ve tested each one of the main monster hypotheses and three of them we can probably say aren’t right and one of them might be.

Apple announced its first “prestige” TV show for its Apple TV service, For All Mankind, developed by Ronald Moore of Battlestar Galactica and Deep Space Nine, which asks the question, what if the space race never ended?

Hey, here’s a question: what if nones moved in with nuns OH GOD HE’S NOT KIDDING: There actually exists a project in which nonreligious millennials, “nones,” move into convents with Catholic nuns. Yes, it’s called “Nuns & Nones.” I think of it as “The House of Homophones.”

Let’s do one where the bottoms of shoes hang out with the spirits of the dead: “Soles & Souls.” How about a house for a tree’s protective layer and a boat: “Barks & Barques.” ONE MORE ONE MORE. Where can episodic stories live with breakfast foods? “Serials and Cereals.”

Quote of the Day

Bear with me. This is from the Santa Monica Daily Press:

Two school sites within the Santa Monica and Malibu communities were given names last week with one naming process drumming up some controversy within the school board.

Here it comes.

Point Dume’s consolidated campus and a district school site at 721 Ocean Park Boulevard (which houses Olympic High School, the district’s Adult Education program and more), were officially named at a May 30 Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District board meeting, with the sites being named Malibu Elementary and Michelle and Barack Obama Center for Inquiry and Exploration, respectively.

The Michelle and Barack Obama Center for Inquiry and Exploration. RIP my Google Alerts.

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