Pssst, Michelle: I Think Jesus Is Involved Somehow

Our Nanny-in-Chief has repurposed the most important day on the Christian calender, the celebration of the risen Christ, into some kind of nutritional Nuremberg Rally, calling the White House Easter Egg Roll (mmmm, eggroll) a “celebration of nutrition and health and activity.”

Because everything has to be jammed through your little agenda, Shelly.

Here’s the whole thing. (Bonus!: See if you can spot the missing word in the following. Aw, you can do it without even reading, I bet.)

Remarks by the President and First Lady at the 2013 White House Easter Egg Roll

THE PRESIDENT: This is Jessica Sanchez, everybody! Give her a big round of applause. (Applause.) Kid President — give Kid President a big round of applause. (Applause.) The Easter Bunny is here. Give the Easter Bunny a big round of applause. (Applause.)

It is wonderful to see all of you. And I just want to say welcome. You guys brought the great weather. It was a little shaky this morning, but all of you did a great job sending a message upstairs, and now we’ve got beautiful weather.

And I now want to introduce the star of the Obama family, my wife, the First Lady, Michelle Obama. (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Kid President, Robbie Novak. Isn’t he wonderful? (Applause.) Robbie, we’re so proud to have you here. You have been so inspiring. I can’t imagine that there’s anyone who hasn’t seen your video, right? You make us all want to work hard and be better. That’s right. So you’re going to spend a little time in the Oval Office just fixing things up for this President, aren’t you? All right, well, it’s good to have you here.

And it’s great to have everyone here this morning. We are so excited. The Easter Egg Roll is the biggest event that we have here on the South Lawn of the White House each year. Today we’re going to have more than 30,000 people who will pass through this yard in celebration of nutrition and health and activity. And we could not do this if it were not for all of our wonderful volunteers, our staff, all of the terrific performers and athletes who have taken time out of their lives and their busy days to make this important. So we need to give all of them a round of applause for all their hard work. (Applause.) Yes, indeed!

So today, we want you to have a great time. We want you to run around. We want you to go over and see the White House Garden. We want you to learn about making tasty, healthy food. We’re going to come down and do some Easter egg roll. We’re going to read some stories. But overall, we want you guys to have a good time and keep moving and be healthy. And, kids, eat your vegetables, okay?

All right, you all, take care. We’ll see you down there. Bye-bye. Thank you. (Applause.)

“Eat your vegetables”: the motto of the Democratic Party.

Happy National Atheist Day!

“I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers.”–Thomas Nagel

Go ahead and hug an atheist today. They need it. They live lives of sad desperation caught in a meaningless universe and protest that they’re happy because they see things “as they really are” and are free to enjoy life as it is, and then disappear into the dust and relieve an already overcrowded world of yet another sentient meatbag.

Evangelical atheists are funny little people, ain’t they? They claim to be the sole heirs to true “reason,” while promoting a mechanistic model of the the universe that is more faith-based than that of theists. I believe the origin of the universe in the big bang (a theory originated by Fr. Georges Lemaître) has a theistic cause, and I have the proof of my own senses and reason, as well as the perfectly sound logical point that all causes must trace themselves back to a First Cause. They also believe that the universe has an origin point, and that their faith-based view of science will find the solely natural cause for that origin annnnny day now. Just give it time. Top Men are working on it right now. Top! Men!

Of course, once that cause is found, it still doesn’t rule out a theistic answer to the origin and nature of the universe any more than understanding why a rose is red and smells nice renders Shakespeare meaningless.

Here’s the glorious truth for them: time, space, and matter have an origin point outside of time, space, and matter, and this everyone understands to be God. It’s really not that hard, and if the next question is, “Well, then where does God come from?” the answer is right there in that complex, brilliant, poetic, vexing, and infinitely wise thing we call scripture, formulated long before the idea of contingent being: “God is.”

What, you wanted something more than that? Maybe a calculation or a formula or a paper in Nature? An answer that reduces the infinite wonder of a totally non-contingent being responsible for all existence into something you can store in that bag of gray mush in your noggin? Tough crap. That’s all you’re getting: YHWH. It’s all you need. Embrace that one mystery, and all else makes sense.

I’m not sure what clinging to an irrational vision of reality gives to atheists. Belief in a transcendent order is a fundamental element of the human psyche, which would mean that it is, in itself, natural. These are the same people who argue that homosexuals are “born with” their sexuality and loudly berate the idea of gay people “going straight” or attempting conversion therapy. However, they seem to think it’s perfectly fine for a human animal born with an innate religious impulse to repress or deny that impulse in favor of … what? A Reason Rally? An upvote on a meme at Reddit? The approval of Sam Harris? Interesting bunch of hypocrites, these evangelical atheists.

But that’s okay, since they don’t really believe it anyway. As Andrew Ferguson writes in the best essay of the year, “Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived…. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.”

You can’t believe the universe is without purpose or meaning, wave your hands around a lot, and then arrive at a moral order for behavior based upon vagaries like social contracts. That’s not even good nonsense.

And so today, April 1st, American Catholic is urging us to celebrate National Atheist Day. Go ahead, reach out to an atheist. Be prepared to offer a reason for your belief.

Honestly, most average disbelievers are really spiritual seekers, and not at all like the evangelical atheists we have here on Patheos, or those hauting Reddit and comboxes. It gets hard to separate the loud Ministers for the Church of Unbelief from the merely hurting, normal people. Usually we only hear from the likes of American Atheists, “Friendly” Atheists, Dawkins, Meyers, etc: the Sturmabteilung of modern militant atheism. Forget about those jerks: they’re the Jimmy Swaggarts and Jack Chicks of modern disbelief: really loud and really dumb.

The average person who doubts or denies the existence of God often does so for solid reasons, and they want answers, not polemics. I imagine many don’t really want to be atheists. Even many “atheists” don’t really believe in atheism. Some people fall into disbelief because they’ve seen an ugly side of religion and religious people. They’ve suffered. They’ve lost. They’ve grieved. They’ve been lied to. They’ve be wounded. They’ve been poorly catechized. They’re just plain ole sinners in a fallen world that exalts the self.

What they need isn’t atheism. What they need is what atheism can never offer. Charity. Faith. Hope.

Not the charity that merely seeks to serve the other (which is a good and noble thing), but a true caritas that is willing to immolate itself on the altar of the world out of pure love of God: a surrender to the love which moves the sun and other stars.

And not the faith that merely believes a thing because it’s reasonable or good or useful, but a faith that consumes the individual with a certainty of Truth.

And not merely a hope that looks to a better tomorrow, but a tendency of the soul towards the ultimate end in beatitude, which is the final happiness. A hope that looks forward in faith and love to the resurrection.

Atheists offer people an attractive lie: the world all there is, so you might as well just enjoy it. In other words, they look at a broken world, say it can be no product of a loving and omnipotent God, and therefore urge people to just embrace it as is.

By contrast, we look at a world broken by our sins, and see the creation of a loving father of who set his children free to fall, and then urged them to lift themselves up again. As a father does. As I did when my children fell. And in learning to stand, we learn to live, and in time, to yearn for the world beyond the world. We long for a return to the home we lost, and which was reclaimed for us on barren hilltop 2000 years ago. We travel a road of faith, hope, and love back to the kingdom we left.

It’s much more than merely an appealing alternative to the grim determinism of atheism, and it has one benefit above all others.

It happens to be true.

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”–C.S. Lewis


Second Nature Journal

Brantly Millegan, Benjamin Robertson, and Read Mercer Schuchardt are announcing the official launch of Second Nature today. Described as “an online journal for critical thinking about technology and new media in light of the Christian tradition,” it published longer, more thoughtful pieces on the intersection of faith and technology.

There’s an appealing McLuhanite sensibility and an impressive roster of contributors up already. If you have any interest in the kind of thing I do here, you’ll like Second Nature. I’ve been hoping to do longer form commentary on this material once time allowed, but in the meantime Second Nature has you covered.

Here’s their launch announcement:

April 1st, 2013 – The new online journal Second Nature officially launches today and plans to be the definitive place for critical thinking about technology and new media in light of the Christian tradition, with written articles, images, videos, poetry, and links.

The journal’s co-founders are Benjamin Robertson, Brantly Millegan, and Read Mercer Schuchardt. Robertson and Millegan both studied under Schuchardt, Associate Professor of Communication at Wheaton College (IL). Robertson and Millegan serve as the journal’s Editors, and Schuchardt is the Chairman of the Editorial Board. The other members of the Editorial Board are: Juliette Aristides, Eric Brende, Peter K. Fallon, Geraldine Forsberg, T. David Gordon, Shane Hipps, Arthur W. Hunt III, Eric McLuhan, and Brett T. Robinson. The board members represent a wide range of academic and professional backgrounds, denominational affiliations, and interests in the subject. For bios and pictures, see the journal’s About page.

The idea of the journal came about after Millegan wrote the article ‘Of Mics and Men‘, and couldn’t find a proper publication in which to publish it. In talking to Robertson and Schuchardt, they decided to form Second Nature. “Everybody knows new technologies like the Internet and smartphones are radically transforming our world, ” Millegan said. “So what does the Christian tradition have to offer to help us to think critically about these powerful tools, their meaning and their proper use? That’s one of the driving questions of the journal.”

The journal is now accepting submissions, which may come in the form of written pieces, images, or videos. While submissions should adhere to the general boundaries set by the journal’s description, there is no religious affiliation required for those submitting pieces. See the journal’s Contact page for full submission guidelines.

For launch, the journal has six published pieces: one painting and five written articles, on topics ranging from the eight characteristics of mass audiences created by electronic media, to how the Internet is reuniting families previously kept apart as a result of other technological innovations. The journal plans to publish a new piece every few weeks, bridging the publication schedule between a quarterly journal and a weekly website.

The journal also has a blog, which will be updated weekly with relevant news or other items of interest related to the journal’s topic. Examples of recent blog posts include: an article about an Italian priest who recently smashed a TV on the altar of his church during Mass to remind his parishioners not become enslaved to technology; pictures from a new tumblr that gives life advice from machines; and a set of videos in which a person tests to see why people are comfortable with security cameras recording them but get very nervous when a person holding a camera does the same thing.

The journal hopes to eventually offer an annual print edition, conferences, and seminars.