Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Creation, Coca Cola, heroin, &tc.

It's been a nutty week, thanks in large part to the fact we talk at each other instantly nowadays, but really don't communicate any more effectively than ever. I'm anxious for the compilations of editorial cartoons from the week to appear. Cartoonists generally are pretty good at distilling.

I did find this one that fairly well sums up the futility of last night's debate between Bill Nye, "the Science guy," and Ken Ham, the Bible guy. 

No sensible person denies that the Bible's creation myths have cultural and spiritual relevance, most likely more so than the Navajo creation myth, for example, just because more people are involved. But they're made of the same stuff.

Sensible Christians and other people "of the Book" generally view evolution as revealed by science as a tool in the creative process. Those who elevate the Bible to the status of a god, rather than recognizing it as a compilation of words about god --- some more relevant that others, some perhaps inspired in some way; many not --- tend not to, however.

So the "debate" was an interesting sideshow in a week of sideshows, but hardly relevant since there rarely are immediate winners when fact and fiction collide, although truth eventually prevails --- and "creationism" will be retired in another generation or two to a dusty back shelf of history.


And then there was the great "America the Beautiful" outburst after Coca Cola's Super Bowl advertisement presented this beautiful song in multiple languages, reflecting the diversity of our population.

Britain's Telegraph wisely pointed out that if there were something to worry about here it most likely was the fact Coke had appropriated a beloved national song in a carefully calculated effort to sell its product --- addictive carbonated water laced with various chemicals --- to folks of all cultures and creeds.

I liked the commercial anyway, however, and there certainly was a good deal of entertainment value in the sputtering and fuming from some that followed.

Coca Cola's critics just hadn't been paying attention in history class. With the exception of indigenous peoples, we're all relatively new arrivals here; and our diverse ancestors spoke a variety of languages. In a generation or two, as emigrants, their children and grandchildren became proficient in English, those languages faded and for the most part vanished.

That's not necessarily good. One thing I enjoyed during many years spent among folks of Norwegian descent was the elements of cultural heritage they'd managed to hang on to (usually not the language, however). Life in the south of Iowa, where cultural remnants are less distinct, sometimes seems a little bland in comparison.

Hopefully, newer generations of immigrants will do a better job of hanging onto distinctive aspects of their cultures, thereby enriching everyone's lives.


Acclaimed actor Phillip S. Hoffman was found dead of a heroin overdose Sunday afternoon. Among the oddities that followed, noted by those addicted to Twitter, involved expressions of near glee among some right-wing pundits.

That calmed down, and the moralizing commenced. Heroin, and other strong drugs, kill --- obviously. And Hoffman, advantaged in many ways and with many potential life choices, was killed by his addiction.

What seemed to be lacking was humility when faced with the reality of addiction, a failure to recognize the fact that we all have our  own and that they invariably color our lives, although as a rule don't kill.

Most are minor --- Diet Coke, for example; or food (overeating can kill, too). My early-morning addiction involves coffee, cups and cups of it.


Scotland's Parliament passed an act opening marriage to same-sex couples Monday --- by a decisive 105 to 18 margin. 

Final arguments against the measure, largely ignored, were phrased in terms that are increasingly common but seem increasingly odd --- threats to the perceived rights of churches and their members to discriminate without facing official sanctions. (Protections for churches already had been built into legislation, so the 11th-hour protests were largely rhetorical).

The implication here is that on this and other issues, Christianity as an institution is on the run. That's certainly good news for those who view the Church principally as an oppressor, and there seems to be more and more of that going around these days.

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