November 24, 2012

"My mother is a baptized Christian, so she made me go to church every Sunday, and I prayed four times a day until I was 14."

"And at lunchtime kids at school would giggle at my praying...I stopped praying. And two weeks later, nothing happened to me, so I didn't pick it up again."

Ang Lee, in an interview about his movie "Life of Pi," which is based on a novel with a strong religious theme. He does, he says (like so many others) like to think of himself as spiritual.

91 comments:

Mitchell the Bat said...

At age 14, Mr. Lee must have realized that he now had a better use for those clasped hands.

Goddess of the Classroom said...

"...nothing happened to me."
How mistaken you are, Mr. Lee. You let go of an irreplaceable component of worship.

Goddess of the Classroom said...
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Shouting Thomas said...

Arguing about whether prayer works is probably the most useless exercise I can imagine.

However, I have noticed that Western intellectuals who can't understand the purpose of Christian prayer get all reverent and respectful when they talk about Zen prayer practices.

Shouting Thomas said...

Or, to put it another way, Western intellectuals don't have any trouble understanding the Buddhist tradition of prayer chanting. The purpose of that chanting is to control the mind, to bring peace to one's own consciousness, to find direction through becoming one with God.

How is that any different than going to confession, and having the priest assign you a penance of 10 Our Fathers and 5 Hail Marys?

Fernandinande said...

I figured that out when I was about 6 years old, so I win.

"How is that any different than going to confession, and having the priest assign you a penance of 10 Our Fathers and 5 Hail Marys?"

No begging for favors from invisible monsters.

phx said...
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DADvocate said...

It appears Mr. Ang fell into the trap of only looking at the short term affect of his actions or lack of actions. Many times praying has affects that take longer that 2 weeks to realize, maybe even longer than a lifetime.

ST makes a good point about the intellectuals. Many were also quite concerned about Muslims in Gitmo being able to pray according to tradition. At least they were until our current president was elected.

DADvocate said...

But it's the libtards who are always sneering.

The libtard sneers and uses the straw man attack.

carrie said...

I think a lot did happen to him, he just has chosen not to acknowledge it.

Paco Wové said...

My LASMP*: Westerners get introduced into Western traditions when they are children, so the introduction is of necessity childish. They don't find out about other traditions until they are significantly older, and thus the introductions are pitched at a more sophisticated level. They then compare their 'childish' native tradition with the 'sophisticated' foreign one, and find the native lacking.

--
*Lazy-ass Saturday morning philosophizing

Erika said...

He wouldn't be the first one who wandered in the desert for a while before seeking out his heavenly Father. Lots of people don't see a need for capital-R religion in their lives at various periods, only to return later.

The Farmer said...

"People made fun of me for doing something, so I stopped doing it. I'm proud of that."

Anglelyne said...

Paco: Westerners get introduced into Western traditions when they are children, so the introduction is of necessity childish. They don't find out about other traditions until they are significantly older, and thus the introductions are pitched at a more sophisticated level. They then compare their 'childish' native tradition with the 'sophisticated' foreign one, and find the native lacking.

Interesting point, Paco. It's also the case that outsiders tend to approach an alien tradition from a "high" path, edited according to their own tastes, rather than through its quotidian manifestation. All major religions have had eras where they attracted first-rate minds and great saints, who make up the high-falutin', philosophical end of a tradition, in contrast to the messier, and sometimes unsavory, folk end.

People within their own traditions see every day the hypocrisies, cruelties, superstitions, and stupidities that inevitably characterize any human organization. They then encounter an idealized version of an unfamiliar tradition and compare it, apples to oranges, unfavorably to their own. (Thus you end up with things like dippy Americans "christians" who have convinced themselves that, say, Buddhism is cool with homosexuality and promiscuity, unlike their own allegedly uptight and intolerant tradition.)

Titus said...

Love him.

Renee said...

"People made fun of me for doing something, so I stopped doing it. I'm proud of that."


Instead of respect and tolerance his peers responded with bigotry, and he appeased them.

That really isn't something to brag about, it is an awful reason to stop being a practicing Christian. It is logical. He didn't come to it on his own, he only stopped practicing when someone told him he should. Peers no less, who probably weren't as smart as him.

I'm pretty religious in practice as well, but my children also get a good view of the 'spiritual only' point of view and they can see the inconsistencies in that. "God is everywhere" and the inability to be critical of President Obama and Bush is the devil. I live in Massachusetts, in which we have so many empty churches and elementary school, we have a senior community center in every neighborhood.

Maybe we should of jumped ship, but I don't know I sort of pity on them.


I'm fully aware my children will stop 'going to church', but I gave them gift of my religion. It's there when they want to come back. We really focus on the Saints, as well which helps.

Renee said...

More from the Interview

"I hate to think life is just facts and laws..... Call it illusion or call it faith, whatever you call it, we have emotional attachment to the unknown. We yearn to find out. That is human nature. It can be, in a way, unrequited love, we don't know. I don't have a particular God I pray to, except sometimes a movie god." (laughs)

His mother did her job, I say. Sure he's just spiritual, but what foundation would he have if his mother didn't have her faith?

30 years ago when we spoke of diversity, it was understanding people of other faith, but now it is understanding people of no faith. Children are raised with no spiritual identity, they're 'nothing in name only'. At least I was baptized 'something'. And with more diversity being taught in the schools, and children learning about cultures, they sometimes wonder why aren't they 'something'.

Joan said...

Quotidian Manifestation would be a great name for a band. Not sure what kind of music they would play, though. Maybe elevator music.

I've had this discussion/argument with my siblings, who have lapsed from Catholicism and tend to follow the talking points ("The church hates women"). We all went to Catholic school but the lapsed ones left and never looked back after high school. I look at the nearly 2000 years of thinking, arguing, and subsequent writing as an amazing resource. People who casually dismiss Christianity as "childish" are usually both arrogant and ignorant.

Bender said...

Western intellectuals don't have any trouble understanding the Buddhist tradition of prayer chanting. . . . How is that any different than going to confession, and having the priest assign you a penance of 10 Our Fathers and 5 Hail Marys?

In your particular (Catholic) example, the differences are the sacraments and grace. But let's broaden that out from the Catholic Church specifically to Christianity generally.

What is the difference between Buddhist prayer and Christian? You might go back to the Tiger Woods and Brit Hume "controversy," where Hume had suggested that what Woods (whose life had crashed and burned at that point) needed was Christianity because of the possibility of forgiveness and redemption. However, Woods is Buddhist, which is not about either of those two things. And ever since, Woods has never been the same and interviews show him still to be an unhappy person.

Bender said...

He didn't come to it on his own, he only stopped practicing when someone told him he should.

One would think that the son of a Chinese Christian would have more sensitivity to the use of social pressure to disbelieve.

Erika said...

I look at the nearly 2000 years of thinking, arguing, and subsequent writing as an amazing resource

This--as well as, of course, the grace of God--is what pulled me into the Catholic church.

Darcy said...

"lightweight religion"

Indeed.

Before I became a believer, I remember having a conversation with my oldest sister very late one night about God. I was in my late teens.

We started out agreeing that we didn't believe at all (I mean, really? All that Bible stuff??). Then, after a "What if?" discussion, we concluded that we did sort of believe something. You know, "something" made sense. Mostly to cover our asses, in case the "what if?" came along. So, I think at that point we'd decided were "spiritual". :)

edutcher said...

He says he's spiritual, as opposed to being religious.

Reminds me of that moronic article that told us Barry was a Lightworker who would bring us all together.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

".nothing happened to me."

Yet.

Howard said...

I never understood how Celtic and Viking people cleave to the Semitic god invented by the sun-cooked crazy blood thirsty vengeful constantly waring tribes of the middle east desert.

Kevin said...

To Paco's explanation add oikophobia and you're pretty much done.

Anglelyne said...

Then again, maybe Lee could have used this advice from Emo Philips:

"When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized that the Lord doesn’t work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me instead."

Darcy said...

Dang it. I didn't know my Viking blood was so obvious.

anolen.com said...

"Instead of respect and tolerance his peers responded with bigotry, and he appeased them."

Clearly, those instincts have served him well in Hollywood.

ricpic said...

...with more diversity being taught in the schools, and children learning about cultures, they sometimes wonder why aren't they 'something.'

Which is the cardinal sin against the religion of liberalism. Because the final goal of liberalism is equality, in which all are alike and meld into The Church of Man, which obeys The State, Man's highest incorporation. Think I'm joking? Then why is it the more successful the diversicrats - for whom diversity is fine as long as other cultures are seen as theme parks, nothing serious - become the angrier
their reaction to even the hint of discrimination (the root of thought) in their charges. Now that they rule unopposed just watch their crackdown on hatethought intensify in the next four years.

ricpic said...

What do you cling to, Howard, institutionalized theft of the oppressors ill got gains? That's a rhetorical question, shit for brains.

Ralph L said...

At age 14, Mr. Lee must have realized that he now had a better use for those clasped hands
So instead of feeling angst when he quit praying, he felt ang.

SteveR said...

I'd like to think that being able to pick and choose from various religions, using history as a component, I could come up with a really cool "spiritual" practice.

Sounds like a Star Trek plot.

Renee said...

rippic,

White people have to travel to other parts of the world to experience 'culture', because they have none I always found to sad. Which is what I like Althouse, because doesn't have to travel far to find things of interest.

I use to joke I could make a second income by inviting tourists to my house, so they could experience what it is like to be Catholic and with lots of kids.

Trashhauler said...

"I never understood how Celtic and Viking people cleave to the Semitic god invented by the sun-cooked crazy blood thirsty vengeful constantly waring tribes of the middle east desert."
________________

Of course, most of it wasn't desert back when they found their God.

But thanks for sneering. I'm sure it enlightened nobody.

McTriumph said...

I'm ICWT, was an alter boy, at one time had thoughts of being a priest, but my corruption began in the backseat of a Catholic priest's Cadillac.

bgates said...

I never understood how Celtic and Viking people cleave to the Semitic god invented by the sun-cooked crazy blood thirsty vengeful constantly waring tribes of the middle east desert.

Yeah, what could Celts and Vikings possibly have in common with crazy bloodthirsty vengeful constantly warring tribes?

Other than an appreciation for the grace extended to us all by the creator God of the universe, I mean.

YoungHegelian said...

If someone is actually interested in just why those Celts & Norsemen found the Semitic (who was really actually more Greco-Roman by that time) God to be the cat's meow, you can do a lot worse than take a gander at this book.

And I'll bet you didn't know that you can buy it through a link at the top of our hostess' home page!

jr565 said...

"And at lunchtime kids at school would giggle at my praying...I stopped praying.

So he stopped what he was doing because of peer pressure and ridicule?
Something tells me he's learned th wrong lesson. Those kids shouldn't have been ridiculing him is the real lesson.

jr565 said...

And it just goes to show that bullying can cow a lot of people into subservient behavior.

jr565 said...

Imagine if Ang were a muslim and kids in his school were mocking him because he believed in his religion. In that example, the kids mocking him would be the villains.
Or if he was hasidic, or if he was gay.

McTriumph said...

jr565
"So he stopped what he was doing because of peer pressure and ridicule?
Something tells me he's learned the wrong lesson."

No, he learn a valuable lesson for being successful in Hollywood.

Howard said...

Hi ricdic

No, I believe in materialism and free market capitalism. How many businesses have you started?

Jesus was a socialist, that's what got him killed.

Freeman Hunt said...

Westerners get introduced into Western traditions when they are children, so the introduction is of necessity childish. They don't find out about other traditions until they are significantly older, and thus the introductions are pitched at a more sophisticated level. They then compare their 'childish' native tradition with the 'sophisticated' foreign one, and find the native lacking.

This, this, this. You see it all the time. "Some mean, old man in the sky that you're supposed to beg things from? Ridiculous!" Indeed.

Freeman Hunt said...

I think giving childish introductions to religion is a bad idea. Better to give a deep introduction that is not fully understood than an understandable introduction that is pat and misleading (or flatly wrong).

Howard said...

Hi ricdic

No, I believe in materialism and free market capitalism. How many businesses have you started?

Jesus was a socialist, that's what got him killed.

Ralph L said...

Jesus was a socialist, that's what got him killed
No, it was saying the same thing over and over again.

Howard said...

Sorry RalphL

Trashhauler:

OK, maybe Judea was eden at some point. Then, god turned it into a desert inhabited by raving lunatics who have waged fratricide to this very day. You can have that holy land all you want. I prefer to worship the rocks, trees, rivers and the fair maidens that run free.

Renee said...

Jesus didn't really care for government, so why would anyone call him a socialist?

Howard said...

Freeman: You are correct, don't sugarcoat or dumb-down what you teach to kids. They are very smart and easily detect a load of bull.

However, how do you get around that when monotheism is essentially a scary version of the Santa Claus myth? Faith sounds like the sales pitch "trust me"

YoungHegelian said...
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YoungHegelian said...

Howard,

However, how do you get around that when monotheism is essentially a scary version of the Santa Claus myth? Faith sounds like the sales pitch "trust me"

Oh sure, that's it. That's why Descartes, Malbranche, Spinoza, Berkeley, Liebnitz, and even Newton come up with completely different reasons why they've got to introduce God into their systems. Because no philosophy is complete without a Santa Claus myth.

I'm sorry -- intelligent atheism or agnosticism is one thing. Moronic ramblings on religion are another.

Take a wild, woolly guess as to which category you fit into.

Howard said...

YH

Show me god in calculus and I'll eat my hat. It's a cool librul hemp hat.

Did Pythagoras need Jehovah to invent the 3-4-5 triangle? There are thousands more examples that refute your theory.

Anyway, god is different from Christianity, Judaism or Islam, which are crazy Semitic religions from the most miserable portion of the modern world. Hell on Earth. Maybe they need to pray harder.

YoungHegelian said...

@Howard,

Did Pythagoras need Jehovah to invent the 3-4-5 triangle?

No but he did sacrifice a sheep to Apollo after the discovery, if tradition holds.

Anyway, god is different from Christianity, Judaism or Islam,

Only at first. If there is a God, does he not reveal His Nature to us? If so, what is it? That's what we mean by revelation, God's Self-Revealing of Himself.

I suspect you put far too much weight in science. You really should look into some philosophy of science. I think you'll find what scientists THINK they know, versus what they REALLY can know through empirical observation to be two very different things.

And, at the end of it all, I'm sorry anyone who thinks kicking theism in the balls is a slam dunk is a philosophical idiot.

Anglelyne said...
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Anglelyne said...
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Anglelyne said...

Renee: And with more diversity being taught in the schools, and children learning about cultures, they sometimes wonder why aren't they 'something'.

What's tragic and infuriating is to see young people of European Christian background looking at the traditions of others and mournfully stating that they "have no culture". But you do have a culture - an immensely rich culture, arguably the richest of them all. And your vicious elders deliberately cut you off from it.

Howard said...

YH

As I said, god is different from religion. If god exists, I cant imagine the middle east is his idea of holy, nor do I suspect he plans a second coming somewhere in Missouri.

IMO, monotheism was the human creation of god in man's image to control the herd.

My philosophy of science is either there is a *god* or there is not. That question is not important because we cannot answer it. Attempts to answer it are exercises in vanity, which is the ultimate deadly sin.

Anglelyne said...

Howard: Freeman: You are correct, don't sugarcoat or dumb-down what you teach to kids. They are very smart and easily detect a load of bull.

Then they enter adolescence and young adulthood, and start exhibiting an astonishing ability to swallow bullshit by the truckload. Sadly, some of 'em never pass out of this stage.

However, how do you get around that when monotheism is essentially a scary version of the Santa Claus myth? Faith sounds like the sales pitch "trust me".

Speaking as an atheist, could I ask you to please STFU? Seriously, you're an embarrassment. What next, you're going to rock the world view of all the believers around here with your incredibly profound and mind-blowing invocation of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

Attempts to answer [the question of the existence of God] are exercises in vanity, which is the ultimate deadly sin.

Who fed you that one? Or did you just make that one up yourself and think it terribly clever?

wyo sis said...

It's very difficult to get to the point where one can say "I don't know, but I know someone does." If you don't believe in God how do you give Him the burden of knowing what you don't and can't know? Is it really harder to trust God than to trust other people?

Bender said...

Did Pythagoras need Jehovah to invent the 3-4-5 triangle?

Putting aside the fact that Pythagoras did not "invent" the 3-4-5 triangle -- one does not invent truth -- and putting aside the matter of "Jehovah" being a corruption of "Yahweh," if one has a proper, informed, knowledgeable, and intelligent understanding of God and the nature of God, who and what He is, rather than the ignorant, backwards, and childish understanding of those who would engage in such mockery and snark, the answer is -- Yes, Pythagoras did need God to discover the 3-4-5 relationship in a triangle.

Properly understood, as the name itself indicates, Yahweh means "I am" (Ex. 3:14) -- He is being itself, the fullness of truth, He is the "Logos" (Jn 1:1), which means "reason."

Without truth, without reason, without order in the universe, without Yahweh/Logos, then the 3-4-5 relationship is not a mathematical certainty.

ambienisevil said...
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McTriumph said...

TOUCHDOWN!

McTriumph said...

I meant TOUCHDOWN! Bender

I was never terrified of my religion or God, just nuns. Rulers for your knuckles, meter sticks for your ass and could throw a 80 MPH curve with an eraser or piece of chalk.

MayBee said...

Ang Lee's mother must have been grateful to be able to baptize her son, something that would have been very dangerous to do in her native China. He was blessed to live in Taiwan.

Perhaps she also felt lucky her son decided to stop publicly praying on his own, rather than because of the laws of a repressive government.

Freeman Hunt said...

However, how do you get around that when monotheism is essentially a scary version of the Santa Claus myth? Faith sounds like the sales pitch "trust me"

Thank you for illustrating my point.

Howard said...

So Bender, you support Obama's "you didn't build that" quip?

Yahway: I am therefore I am. Hard to argue with that. It worked for Stalin and Mao.

McLeather-Jacket nails the masochistic underpinning of middle eastern monotheism.

McTriumph said...

McLeather-Jacket nails the masochistic underpinning of middle eastern monotheism.

Masochists enjoy the pain, the disciplined learn to tolerate or avoid it.

When I transferred to public school the teachers still practiced corporal punishment, they just lacked style.

Howard said...

So Freeman, how do you explain the forbidden fruit, adams rib, noah's ark, the attempted murder of Isaac, slavery, multiple wives, burning bush, blood sacrifice, vengeful, jealous god, etc. without making it sound like a scary fairy tale?

You can't because it is a fairy tale. The reason it's sugar coated to kids is because it works better than the alternative. In the business of selling lies, you should leave the strategy to the experts who wear the black dresses and gold rings.

Paco Wové said...

Somebody must have put some meth in the troll's food dishes today.

Renee said...

Howard, but it isn't a fairy tale.

The Old Testament is a history of the 'Fall of Man'.

As with the post-modern world, there is some crazy horrible things that happen and in a thousands of years they would all think to be nothing more then 'a fairy tale'.

Howard said...

OK McTriumph, you are right, I should have said sadomasochistic.

Howard said...

Renee:

I agree OT is an allegorical history and guide for keeping tribes intact and successful. Look at the continued achievement of the Jews to believe it's a first rate book for minorities to accumulate wealth and power in the face of hatred and envy.

Word of god? That's a fairy tale.

Palladian said...

IMO, monotheism was the human creation of god in man's image to control the herd.

How else are you going to control the herd?

My philosophy of science is either there is a *god* or there is not.

Science doesn't address such questions. You seem to misunderstand both science and metaphysics.

I never understood how Celtic and Viking people cleave to the Semitic god invented by the sun-cooked crazy blood thirsty vengeful constantly waring tribes of the middle east desert.

Wow, even Cedarford resists calling Jews "bloodthirsty".

The "sun-cooked" (read: brown people) and the reference to "Celtic and Viking people" suggests that you have the word ODIN tattooed somewhere on your body, that you like to listen to loud Norwegian bands with misspelled Latin names scream about burning down churches, and that every year on April 20th you drop a tear into some cheap pilsner as you listem to a poorly-encoded MP3 of excerpts from the Götterdämmerung.

Just a guess!

Howard said...

Paco: anyone who listens to a burning bush is smokin crack. anyone who believes a crack smokin burnin bush quoting lunatic must be a republican

Palladian said...

Look at the continued achievement of the Jews to believe it's a first rate book for minorities to accumulate wealth and power in the face of hatred and envy.

Looks like I hit the nagel on the kopf!

Palladian said...

Paco: anyone who listens to a burning bush is smokin crack. anyone who believes a crack smokin burnin bush quoting lunatic must be a republican

Looks like syntax and punctuation are failing... I'm guessing that the black metal is blarin' and the bong is belchin' smoke like some poisonous Semitic censer!

Howard said...

Palladian: the middle east is full of cutthroats, no? Arabs and Jews are Semitic people who invented the trifecta of desert monotheism. The holy land has been a constant seat of fratricidal bloodletting.

Just because I don't buy into the religion from a region in constant war, don't assume I'm a Nazi.

Science is a tool for answering questions. The existence of god can't be answered using science, therefore, it's not something to waste time thinking about.

Perhaps if you don't like us Vikings and Celts, you should live in the middle east where you will feel more welcome and accepted.

Howard said...

Palladian: That I admire the success of Jews in the face of adversity is a sure sigh of hatred. I love PC teabaggers, they are always following Alice down the rabbit hole.

Palladian said...

Adolescence is a tough time for all of us, Hugihard.

Renee said...

"Science is a tool for answering questions. The existence of god can't be answered using science, therefore, it's not something to waste time thinking about. "

Human beings always find themselves doing idiotic things. Science can't answer that either. Do we not waste our time thinking about it, as well?

hoyden said...

After much wandering I have come to accept that I am a spiritual being having a human experience. I tried my hand at being God in my life and things went very sideways very quickly.

shaun said...

Pray at all times. Pray in the house. Pray outside the house. If you pray in times of peace, God will hear you in times of trouble. Pray when you get stuck in an elevator.
http://www.elevatormalaysia.com

Sorun said...

It's been a long time since I read Life of Pi, but I was very disturbed at the author's contempt for agnostics. Even worse than for atheists. I don't get it.

Bender said...

It's been a long time since I read Life of Pi, but I was very disturbed at the author's contempt for agnostics. Even worse than for atheists. I don't get it.

I've not read the book and won't be seeing the movie, but contempt for agnostics of any stripe is universal. No one has any respect for those who are lukewarm, who refuse to take sides, those to whom it is said, "s*** or get off the pot." Dante has it right when he writes that they deserve a certain type of torment, where they refuse to believe to enter heaven, but hell refuses to take them either.

jr565 said...

Howard wrote:
Science is a tool for answering questions. The existence of god can't be answered using science, therefore, it's not something to waste time thinking about. "

science also can't answer moral questions, therefore it's not something to waste time thinking about?

Rusty said...

h sure, that's it. That's why Descartes, Malbranche, Spinoza, Berkeley, Liebnitz, and even Newton come up with completely different reasons why they've got to introduce God into their systems. Because no philosophy is complete without a Santa Claus myth


No. but all those things are ideas we impose on the universe in our attempt to explain it. They are not the universe. New mathematics must constantly be discovered as we unpeel another layer of the mystery. Another layer is always underneath.
Of all the major religions only Judaism laid claim to a creator god. A god that created the universe from nothing. No mass. no gravity. No time. Nothing.
Not Santa Clause. Because , since the god of the universe is infinite and therefore without limit, anything you use to describe god would limit god.
Pretty fuckin' sophisticated for a buncha fuckin' Hebrews following their goats around the desert.
And without them western civilization wouldn't be where we are today. And there would be no Decartes, or Liebnitz, or Newton.

Mitchell the Bat said...

[B]ut contempt for agnostics of any stripe is universal.

Bender is a foot soldier in the war against freedom.

Bender said...

You do understand, do you not, that there is no freedom without truth, without even the desire for truth? If one spends his entire time unconcerned with discerning exactly what the truth is, not bothering to come to any conclusions about truth, including the truth of the origin of things and the nature of the human person and the meaning of life, that is to say, without bothering to come to any conclusions regarding the truth of the existence or non-existence of God, then that is the biggest slave to error and relativism that one can be. Rather than having the freedom to walk the right path through life, the path of truth, he is instead like a cork in river or ocean, going wherever the currents and waves take him.

The atheists for the most part at least do seek truth, to the extent that they understand it, even if they are wrong about it. The agnostic, on the other hand, is the perpetual relativist, gutlessly refusing to say yes or no, agree or disagree, right or wrong, good or evil. With their reckless disregard for truth, they throw freedom away.

Paco Wové said...

Extremists always hate moderates. Moreso, even, than the opposite extreme.

Joe said...

Hopefully, the movie will be better than the previews which were very pretentious and the acting simply horrible.