12 December 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

I'm reading the book, Life of Pi, with my freshman honors students. It's a fascinating book--one that has burst onto many high school readying lists. I like it because it gives me two things: a chance to discuss faith/religion with my students.

We review the 20th Century. We talk about Einstein and how his Theory of Relativity opened the door to breaking all the rules. After all, if space and time is relative, isn't good and evil relative, too? If the speed of light was the only constant, I guess God/god was relative, too.

I had a great time today preparing my final lecture for this amazing group of students--a Top Three class of all the kids I've taught over ten years. We will study art, music, and architecture, following it from the Romantic Era (early 19th Century) to today. I'm grading their papers--topic: how I formed a belief I have today.

I'm still learning more. That's the cool thing. In her column in Salon.com, Camile Paglia made a profound statement. Paglia is a liberal, a feminist, and an outspoken lesbian (not that that matters much, I guess). She is one of the most outspoken people in Letters today.

In talking about Mitt Romney and the religious expectations Americans have for their politicians, she wrote:

Atheism alone is a rotting corpse. I substitute art and nature for God -- the grandeur of man and the vast mystery of the universe.... Secularism evidently cannot stimulate creativity as profoundly as religion does -- whether in the artist's soaring affirmation or angry resistance.
Paglia discusses Europe--a thoroughly secularized society. About the only thing she sees Europeans passionate about is soccer. Their art stinks, there is no moral authority in their actions. An emphasis on the environment or an open approach to sexuality only underscore the spiritual wasteland that it has become. Paglia calls it "a museum" where people from around the world can go to witness the grandeur of a society that once revered God and honored its kings.

What a fascinating thought. I don't think Paglia has been reborn as a Christian, nor do I expect her to become evangelical overnight. But here you have a confirmed atheist basically saying: "I don't believe in God, but I sure do want to live in a society where enough people believe in him to embrace life, to seek to create great works of art, who embrace the mystery of God through science and exploration.

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