james p carse

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Yes, I’m spending too much time on facebook. Why? Well, it’ so easy. One waits for comments on your posts, posts on your comments, comments on your comments, and finds some posts, some comments, interesting even if you don’t comment back. It’s one gigantic blog where everyone is posting and commenting at the same time. The stream of information is sweeping by at an alarming rate. A hot topic one day disappears into the next. It’s information overload! But fun. Still, is it largely a waste of time? Not necessarily.

It can be a channel into interesting topics. Sam Harris has a FB page which I looked into and found an interesting two hour long debate between Harris and Shermer on one side and Chopra and Houston on the other. Juan Cole has a page. And Barney Frank. Then there’s Karen Armstrong with her Charter for Compassion. Countless others. Too much of course, and how does one pick and chose?

The net result is I ignore this blog. Not that I don’t have enough to do besides facebook. The Norway UU church keeps me busy. The stewardship campaign is beginning and there’s hardly anyone to run it. A flurry of emails amongst Chris Davis, Kathi Pewitt, Deborah Crump, Richard Beal, and me, plus a couple of phone calls from Chris to me, finally resolved a date for our kickoff meeting: April 16th from 5:30pm to 7pm. And then there’s all the church’s financial stuff with me as treasurer. Then there’s OUR financial stuff.

Enough for now. I’ve got to think about food and interact with Cynthia regarding the food, plus check our provisions.

Oh, but I’m reading an interesting philosophical book by James P. Carse, “Breakfast at the Victory: The mysticism of ordinary experience”. Fascinating but difficult. The need for silence. The heading for the sixth chapter is one of my favorites. It’s from the Rig Veda X:129:

Then even nothingness was not, nor existence.
There was no air then, nor the heavens beyond it.
What covered it? Where was it? In whose keeping?
Was there then cosmic water, in depths unfathomed?
Then there was neither death nor immortality,
nor was there then the touch of night and day.
The One breathed windlessly and self-sustaining.
There was that One then, and there was no other.
In the beginning desire descended upon it —
that was the primal seed, born of the mind.
The sages who have searched their hearts with wisdom
know that which is kin to that which is not.
But, after all, who knows, and who can say
whence it all came, and how creation happened?
The gods themselves are later than creation,
so who knows truely whence it has arisen?
Whence all creating had its origin,
he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not,
he who surveys it all from highest heaven,
he knows — or maybe even he does not know.

Now I gotta go.

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Here I am back to Terry Eagleton again with his first Yale lecture series talk, “Christianity Fair and Foul”, in the middle of which he invokes the “mind-blowing contingency” of the cosmos, the fact it might just as well never have happened, and captures for me again my one feeling of mystery, namely, the Why is there something rather than nothing? feeling. He’s totally brilliant and amusing throughout this talk and sums up Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens as Ditchkins. I was led here this morning from another old flame of mine, James P. Carse, to whom I was led by the remarkable Rebecca Parker, UU “theologian” of the Starr King school in Berkeley, Calif., after having heard her beautiful North Conway Friday evening talk about earth being our only paradise, as proclaimed by among others, Jesus H Christ, and the early Christians. How I found James P. Carse from this comes from a UU World interview of Parker and co-author Rita Nakashima Brock, under Recent Articles in the sidebar. Parker’s latest book, again with Brock, is titled, “Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire”. OK, there’s enough material here in these links to last a lifetime, certainly my lifetime.
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ps. I forgot what really set me off on this track this morning, Stanley Fish’s recent article in the NYT, God Talk. It’s a review of Terry Eagleton’s latest book, Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate.
Happy reading! 😆

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Hey! I think it’s time I talked religion! Has anyone heard of Unitarian Universalism? UU for short? You can even be an atheist and still be a UU. Some religion, huh? Well, some would say, and I include myself in that, that religion isn’t about belief but about questions. I think I put a post in here a while back by a weird philosopher by the name of James P. Carse who wrote a book called The Religious Case Against Belief, and another book with the interesting title, Finite and Infinite Games. Yes, it’s the infinite games that are what we’re in, or should be in, the never ending questions, and the uncanny, shivers down your back, feelings down there somewhere in your body and soul.

Soul?? Did I mention soul? Well, of course, there’s no soul, only this mysterious feeling or being that is us? But I’m starting to ramble now. Let’s get back on track. How about checking out the UUA website? And here’s the UU news agregator: UU Updates. Oh, and here’s the link to the UU church I go to: Norway UU. And here’s our sister church: West Paris UU. By the way, Norway and West Paris are towns in the great state of Maine, not a country in Scandinavia and the west end of Paris, France. HAHA! UUs have a sense of humor.

Another thing I ought to mention is that these two churches started out as Universalist churches. Only recently, since 1960 if that’s recent, has the Unitarian label been slapped on in front of the Universalist handle. But that’s another story for another time.

Cheers, and happy infinite religiosity to everyone!

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That title may seem a contradiction in terms but not if one defines those words according to the philosopher James P. Carse in his new book, The Religious Case Against Belief. He simply says, in a detailed and complex way, that religion is concerned with the ultimate questions: why are we here? (not how we are here), why is there something rather than nothing?, what is death?, and many other related questions. On the other hand, belief is a thing we know, that we have answers to. For example, there is belief in the Christian God, or the Allah of Islam, or simply belief in the divinity (partial or not) for Jesus, and many other fixed beliefs. So, what Carse is saying is that we should leave ourselves open to these ultimate questions and not think we have the answer to them in a fixed belief system.

I feel I have still not quite captured the essence of the distinction Carse makes. I think I’ll post this for now and come back later. He has a great analysis of one of my favorite poems, Emily Dickinson’s I Heard a Fly Buzz When I died so I want to bring that in too. There’s never enough time to post and read!
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