Archives for October 2005

Faith Versus Science

One of the fundamental arguments in life involves faith versus science. That is, we argue about the intangible using the tangible to prove the existence of the intangible. If this wanders you’ll have to forgive me because “I am thinking out loud.”

I find some of these arguments to be tedious because they begin and end with statements of “I know that this is true” and tend to be based upon the believers claim to be in touch with the real “truth” of the world.

A common example is found in “I know that G-d exists and if you do not it is only because you are intentionally not open to him/her/it.”

Look, I believe in G-d because of faith. I believe that G-d makes sense because I exist, you exist, my children, this blog, animals, the universe etc exist and it makes sense to me that a higher power created it. But even with the empirical evidence of life that I cited, I don’t expect that to be enough for proof based upon scientific testing.

This is my own thing, but I really don’t have a problem with seeing the world as incorporating a blend of science and faith. That means that I don’t take every word of the Torah as being literal. I am not a literalist. I see room for interpretation and I see how that interpretation can change based upon evidence developed by scientists.

It reminds me of an old joke that goes something like this. Congregants at a local synagogue have an ongoing debate about whether to rise or sit for a certain section of the liturgy.

One half claims that they have always stood and the other claims that they have always sat. The debate rages on until they can’t take it any longer and demand that the rabbi resolve it.

His solution is to go ask the oldest congregant 96 year-old Abe Goldberg what the tradition was to which Goldberg responds, “the tradition is that we fight over this every year.””

The point being that people like to think of themselves as living life a certain way and that their way is one, correct true way when often there are multiple ways to do things and when you try to make it a black and white world you often get hit with an awful lot of shades of grey.

Ok, now I am not sure if any of this made sense to anyone but me, but I get it which is good, because I wrote it.

Who is To Plame for This

In the midst of the Valerie Plame affair I am curious about many things. I wonder what the hell various members of the admin were thinking such as Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Karl Rove and where this is all going to end up.

But more than that I wonder about Robert Novak and why his name has almost entirely disappeared from the conversation. Is he completely blameless here. Does he share any responsibility whatsoever for revealing her name or is he protected by his press credentials.

I also have a few questions for Judith Miller regarding why she went to jail and what her role is in this.

For those of you who have questions about overall situation you might want to take a look at this link to the Washington Post site. It is a Q&A about what is happening.

Sound Clips

I am a little kid. I just love this kind of stuff.

Here are a few more clips. Some may be more risque so consider yourself forewarned. Some of these come from some of my favorite movies.

Bogart
Stella
Land War In Asia
Mr Wolfe.
Mutants
Women
Trying to Pick Up Women
Dodgeball
Scarface
Three Up and Three Down
White Man In Dire Need
Kansas

Always
Close
Good Leads
Top Man
Mr. Hand
Dr. Evil
I could Have Been A Contender

It is Almost Erev Halloween- A Few Thoughts

Some of my fellow MOTs are reluctant to let their children observe Halloween. There are a variety of reasons why this is so and I admit to having been reluctant to get into it, but that is a different story for a different day.

I once heard Rabbi Ed Feinstein give a sermon in which he outlined some compelling reasons for taking our children out and wanted to share some of it with you.

“I take my kids trick-or-treating on Halloween. The truth is that you don’t find many rabbis out on Halloween. Many of my congregants are surprised, even upset, to find their rabbi and his kids in costume celebrating a holiday that has definite Christian and pagan origins. And my kids certainly don’t need any more candy in their daily diet. But something remarkable happens on Halloween, something I want my kids to see: On Halloween, we open our homes to one another. On Halloween, we come out from behind solid-core doors and dead-bolts locks and electronic burglar alarms. The doorbell is met, not with a gruff “Whose there?” and a suspicious eye in the peep-hole, but with a smile and sweets. On Halloween, and only on Halloween, we pretend we are a neighborhood again…families from disparate background who share common civic values, making life together in a common space. If only once a year, I want my kids to see what it’s like when fear subsides, and people trust one another enough to open their doors.”

Sadly there is so much truth in that. There are fewer and fewer neighborhoods that have that open, friendly, Leave it To Beaver feel in which you can let your children play unattended in the front of the house.

All too often you only know the neighbors on either side of you and you just barely recognize the man/woman down the street. So I see a lot of value in being able to show the kids something out of my past because I walked to school and reached a point at which my friends and I were allowed to trick or treat by ourselves. That is not something that my children are going to share with me and I am saddened by it.

Here is another snippet of the speech.

“The most destructive disease in America, wrote the New Republic magazine some years ago, is not AIDS, but “AFRAIDS” — the pervasive fear of violence that steals away our freedom, our sense of community, our trust. What happens to a city when everyone is afraid of everyone else? What happens to us — to our souls — to our children, when fear of violence is constant and pervasive? Bombarded by a daily litany of baby-snatching, berserk gunmen, child molesters, drive-by shootings, school shootings, police shootings, what happens to us? what happens to our children?”

This is something that I do wonder about. I have a hard time believing that things are so much worse now than they were. Part of me expects, or should I suspects that the vast amount of instant information (read news) has made some events seem to be far more prevalent then they used to be in the past because the sad reality is that pedophiles, rapists and murderers have always been here.

But while I will go to great lengths to give to my children I am not willing to take certain risks because every time I think of the final line of that speech it resonates with me

“When they finally fell asleep, my wife and I dumped out all the candy on the kitchen table, to inspect each and every piece for needle marks and razor blades and the pernicious, poisonous tampering of some sick mind. God help us.”

So we do what we can to keep them safe and to provide a normal life because what else can you do. I try to do what I can to be a good neighbor and look out for those around here not just because it is my neighborhood but because if you do it here there is a chance that it might spread. A viral infection of positive action.

Last year some teenage boys and I had a little stand-off. They were stealing pumpkins and smashing them. I would be less then forthcoming if I said that I hadn’t engaged in my share of juvenile behavior, but at the same time I understood that there were risks involved.

Boys, I am going to be looking for you again this year and I will not hesitate to stop you but let me give you fair warning. A couple of the other fellows around the ‘hood have paintguns and have decided that it might be fun to try and decorate those people who look for tricks and not treats.

One more note in honor of Halloween I remind you of the story I blogged about earlier this year:

R2D2’S X-RATED STAR WARS COSTUME

The DovBear Dance Does Exist

Here you go Dovie, a little PR. Say what you will about the grouchy old bear, he is fun.