July 23, 2016

A Growing Feeling of Political Homelessness

Homeless in Sugamo 2I suppose I should have written a post summarizing my impressions of the 2016 Republican National Convention. I ended up watching more of the convention and the convention coverage than I had planned. I could have written up some sort of summary of the few high points and many low points. But the thing is, I find myself with surprisingly little I want to say about it. Aside from a few odd moments, it just wasn't that interesting. It was pretty obvious that I am not part of their target audience.

What I was hoping to see was Donald Trump making a real shift from the Idiocracy character he has been playing to a serious general election candidate. That is, I wanted to hear some specifics about how he plans to accomplish any of the things he has been claiming he will do. Instead, he continued to make the same sweeping promises that carried him through the primary with few details. It is becoming clearer that he may not not understand how our political system works.

July 20, 2016

When Atheists Read the Christian Bible

Bible paperWhen an atheist reads the Christian bible, he or she can expect to receive praise for doing so from many Christians. They think it is a good book, and some think that reading it might finally bring us around to Jesus belief. Of course, whatever praise we might receive for reading this particular book quickly turns to condemnation when we share our reactions to what we have read. What has always fascinated me about this are the approaches that many Christians take to an atheist who has read this "holy" book and not found it at all persuasive. In this post, I will consider two of the more common approaches I have encountered from Christians. My guess is that both will be familiar to you.

1. You Need Bible Study Materials

In my experience, the most common reaction from Christians when an atheist is less than impressed with their bible is an attempt to convince us that what we read does not really mean what it says. The idea here is quite simple: you are misunderstanding what you read, and you need help to do so. We are told that we are failing to consider the historical context in which the words were written or something similar. What is most interesting about this notion of context is how inconsistently it is applied.

July 19, 2016

How We End Up With President Trump

Donald Trump Signs The Pledge 25The 2016 Republican National Convention got underway in Cleveland yesterday. I watched as much of it as I could stand, which did not end up being all that much. It really did remind me of, as more than one pundit has described it, a bad late night infomercial. I sometimes forget that this is an apt description of both the major party conventions every four years.

I often plan to watch them only to turn off the TV out of boredom no more than a few hours in. Some of the early floor squabbles around the NeverTrump folks were mildly interesting, but it quickly became clear that they were not going to go anywhere. The nominee has already been decided, and there is little those who are unhappy with the outcome can do about it now. And while I could not resist catching some of Scott Baio's speech, I was unable to find much of interest beyond that.

July 17, 2016

U.S. News Media Coverage of Turkey

Maiden's Tower, Bosphorus Strait, IstanbulLike most Americans, I do not know much about Turkey. I have little understanding of their political system, what their leaders are like, what the political opposition is like, how they are on human rights, and so on. When news of the attempted coup broke, I tuned into the cable news coverage that was available. I thought that CNN, MSNBC, and PBS all did a decent job trying to explain what seemed to be taking place. Moreover, I thought that these networks all did a good job of making a compelling case for why this news should be of great interest to those of us here in the U.S. They addressed Turkey's strategic importance, NATO membership, and so on.

One thing that surprised me was that everybody made the point that Turkey was not only a member of NATO but was the only Muslim nation that was a member of NATO. I had been under the impression that Turkey might be Muslim in the sense that the majority of Turks were Muslim, but I thought that their government was actually quite secular and that this was one of the things that distinguished them from most Muslim nations. Maybe this was once true and is no longer the case, or maybe it was never true and I was simply wrong.

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