Now I maintain that while there are versus forms of faith

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canada goose store Leon Wieseltier vs. Tanya Luhrmann: is she enabling faith?I often reported on Tanya Luhrmann, an anthropologist at Stanford who, after having studied an evangelical Christian sect in America and published a Templeton funded book on it, When God Talks Back now writes prolifically about faith in popular magazines and newspapers. canada goose outlet us What galls me is that canada goose coats uk the New York Times has taken her aboard as a sort of pet accommodationist who writes weekly op eds about canada goose factory outlet the benefits of faith canada goose stockists uk and prayer, how prayer works, and how getting God canada goose jacket outlet toronto to hear you is hard. (See some of my posts Times gave her a venue to spread such thin ideas about religion on a weekly basis. I much rather read a weekly column by someone like, say, Steve Pinker, who would actually say something interesting.When I criticized Luhrmann for accommodationism, I got an email from one of her friends and colleagues, taking me to task for my posts. She was, said the friend, only reporting the doings of the faithful as a good anthropologist, without passing judgment on them. But I don think that the case. True, she doesn come out and explicitly say that speaking in tongues is good, but she says it good for the practitioners and shouldn be stigmatized. And she maintains that faith isn really about belief, but about joy:And that was not really what I saw after my years spending time in evangelical churches. I saw that people went to church to experience joy and to learn how to have more of it. These days I find that it is more helpful to think about faith as the questions people choose to focus on, rather than the propositions observers think they must hold.If you can sidestep the problem of belief and the related politics, which can be so distracting it is easier to see that the evangelical view of the world is full of joy. God is good. The world is good. Things will be good, even if they don’t seem good now.That sounds like what I used to say in college when I was stoned.Well, how much joy would a Muslim have if he knew for certain that Mohamed was fictional, or a Christian if she knew that Jesus was made up, like Santa Claus? My impressions are that Luhrmann has a very blinkered view of religion, gleaned largely from the Vineyard sect she studied, and that she is in essence an apologist for faith, regardless of her cred as an anthropologist. One can help read her book or columns without sensing an approbation of faith, a feeling that it good for you what Dan Dennett calls in belief. I glad to see that Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic, agrees with me on this. In a piece called and Brains in his Washington Diarist column (the piece is not online free, but judicious inquiry might yield it), he canada goose outlet 2015 takes Luhrmann feel good apologetics apart.Now Leon (my editor for three pieces at TNR) is no New Atheist. He a secular Jew, but far more religion friendly than I. After his father died, he went to synagogue daily for a year, writing a book about his experience called Kaddish. He regularly goes after New Atheists, and you remember him for his dust up about scientism with Steve Pinker in The New Republic (see here, here, and here), where Leon was a severe canada goose outlet website legit critic of the hegemony of science. He also criticizes New Atheists like Dawkins, but this new piece shows that he has no love for Luhrmann, either.His main beef is that she extolling a stupid rather than a thoughtful form of faith. Now I maintain that while there are versus forms of faith, in the end a thoughtful faith is no more credible than a stupid one. Nevertheless, Leon has some juicy snark about Luhrmann, grasping immediately, as did I, that she really an apologist. And he also levels some criticism about religion canada goose outlet buffalo in general.A few excerpts, which also show Leon ambivalence about faith:Prayer without a plausible metaphysics is just me. In such circumstances, the cosmological picture is a cosmological fantasy; and fantasy provides pleasure, not certainty. It trivializes an attempt to change the world, which prayer is, when it suffices with the good feelings that are generated by the attempt. The question of delusion hangs over all good feelings. And so I canada goose outlet nyc have always sided with the cautionary observation of the rabbi in the Talmud who wryly warned that “whoever protracts and overly ponders his prayer will arrive at an aching heart.”Clearly Leon,, like me, is a dolorous secular Jew. canada goose outlet online uk (Jewish telegram: worrying. Details follow. The next pogrom could be right around the corner.But The New York Times has been running promotions for praying in tongues, and for the usurpation of theology by psychology, which is the American innovation in religion. “Why We Talk in Tongues,” was the title of a recent column by T. M. Luhrmann. She notes that “18 percent of Americans spoke in tongues at least several times a year,” as if polling can settle a philosophical matter. She reports on her excitement at a charismatic Christian service in Ghana, where for three hours the worshippers spoke in tongues. They told her that they employed the same technique privately as well. “They said they did so because it was the one language the devil could not understand, but what I found so striking was how happy it seemed to make them.”Ah, I love the reference to smoked fish counters, for the hardened rationalists who patronize them are, of course, mostly Jewish.You can see here some differences between Leon and me, for I don think that the matter of religion can be settled by anything, at least insofar as those matters involve truth claims. Nor do I even see religion as a matter, as philosophical matters are susceptible to reason, even if many of them can be settled. Nevertheless, Leon take on what the Times is doing is absolutely correct. He explains further:Religious thinkers since Philo have been wrestling with the incomprehensibility of any concept of the deity that appropriately honors its sublimity. Luhrmann proposes that we give up and babble. “As a technique,” she explains, “tongues capture the attention but focus it on something meaningless (but understood by the speaker to be divine).” Myself, I would rather my nonsense not be sacred and my sacred not be nonsense. “There’s plenty here to alarm secular canada goose outlet orlando liberals,” canada goose outlet woodbury she writes, invoking the stereotype that is designed to embarrass all skepticism. Actually, there’s plenty here to alarm religious conservatives, too. Many of the world’s great religious traditions have consecrated themselves to the ideal of spiritual articulateness, and to the discovery of valid propositional content for the substance of faith. All this, for Luhrmann, is canada goose outlet factory only “abstract and intellectual,” when it is merely the natural activity of thinking creatures who seek.”The role of belief in religion is greatly overstated,” Luhrmann declares, “as anthropologists have long known.” Who gave anthropology the last word? This is like saying that the canada goose outlet shop role of canada goose jacket outlet sale beauty in art is greatly overstated because there is so much ugliness in art. My fellow canada goose shop uk Americans, there are questions that do not allow of empirical answers! I leave aside the place of ideas in the evangelicism that Luhrmann adores. Are we really suffering from a surfeit of thoughtful belief? Have we been neglecting our felicity? “Secular liberalism,” with its demand for the justification of metaphysical opinions, has more to offer religion than the immediate gratifications of a credulous canada goose outlet in montreal joyriding. Luhrmann is peddling another intellectual argument for anti intellectualism, another glorifcation of emotion in a culture enslaved to emotion. I choose to shun the unintelligent light and remain in the intelligent darkness, and sweat it.Again, the concept of belief seems oxymoronic to me. There is belief that involves thought, and can be expressed in fancy words (viz., Alvin Plantinga and Karen Armstrong), but the substantive content of that thought always turns out to be nil. It is simply hope expressed in academic language.But in the end Leon accusation is correct: Luhrmann is telling Americans to just give up and abandon themselves to the Great Unknown. Don bother trying to figure out if there a God, because that not useful. Instead (and this is a trope of John Haught), just voluntarily immerse yourself in the Mystery Behind the Universe.I approve of thoughtful religion rather than speaking in tongues and talking to God religion for one reason only: canada goose factory outlet vancouver if you dedicate yourself to thought, there a decent chance you give up your faith completely.For the same reason there are thousands of different sports leagues rather than one. Lurhmann claim that religion is most importantly a social ritual (my summary, not her words) does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that every human will canada goose outlet like the same social rituals.Having said that, her whole argument has a very tu quoque feel. She basically arguing that religous practice is okay because the social ritual aspect of religion is just as valid as any other social ritual. You go to church on Sundays where you stand up and sit down and chant go to a football game on Sundays where I stand up and sit down and chant. If those things bring us joy, they are both equally valid.That a fine point. But as a of religion, it trivializes it to an enormous extent. It is not surprising to me that Weiseltier and other religious intellectuals would take offense canada goose premium outlet at that suggestion. You are making religious practice valid as other practices not by bringing the others up in canada goose vest outlet metaphysical importance, but by reducing the metaphysical importance of religion to essentially zero.But heresies and crusades weren about rituals but about extremely fine points of theology, such as whether Jesus has one or two Consider the huge proliferation of Protestant sects their practices are often essentially the same, but the communities are split canada goose outlet toronto location over highly specific theological issues (such pre vs. post millenial dispensationalism).If this were just a matter of social rituals, then the Mass Catholics would be a completely different sect from those who like and bells But both low and high Catholics are Catholics, and for the most part share beliefs that they feel distinguish them from canada goose outlet new york other believers.I reminded of the fictional character Louis Wu in Ringworld Engineers (second in the series) by Larry Niven. canada goose outlet mississauga The first few pages deal with Louis being a addict with a wire delivering current to the pleasure centres of his brain. Although Louis can react canada goose outlet uk he has no motivation while under the canada goose outlet las vegas wire.Which is a long way around to point out the potential (no pun intended) downsides of too much false joy, divorced from real life values and achievements. It is time lost, and in the long term destructive of human fulfillment and relationships.Speaking of science fiction references, I can help but think of Firefly/Serenity canada goose outlet washington dc when I read Luhrmann advice to just give up and let go. I think about how in Serenity, they discover that the Reavers were created when the people of a settlement took a drug that made them peaceful. Either they went insane and became homicidal Reavers or they just laid down and died because they had no motivation to do anything. They didn even want to eat canada goose store.