Category Archives: Reflection

Songs for Memorial Day

In the glory of war, we sometimes forget the price. I want to thank to thank Daz for his remarks on one of these songs.

Percy Bysshe Shelley Rememberence

March 25 marks the two hundred second anniversary of the University of Oxford sending down, or according to one source, merely rusticating (translation: expelling, or merely suspending) Percy Bysshe Shelley and Thomas Jefferson Hogg for sending a tract to the heads of all colleges at Oxford entitled The Necessity of Atheism. They were shocked and appalled (as am I).

You can read the whole thing (1813 revision) at The Necessity of Atheism.

This post is for his cojones in publishing the tract and not because I enjoyed his poetry (a bit gushy for my tastes, in spite of his ability to turn a phrase) or the contents of the tract. As with all generalizations, there are exceptions, and Ozymandias is one of those.

Shelley turned the idea of atheism on its head. He rejected deism (the idea of a creator god with no other attributes) which is opposite of many who reject a meddling god or a god of supplication but can’t imagine creation without a god. On the other hand, he saw some outside influence that co-exists with the universe. He stated it this way: “There Is No God. This negation must be understood solely to affect a creative Deity. The hypothesis of a pervading Spirit co-eternal with the universe remains unshaken.”

This “Spirit” is often interpreted by modern authors as Shelley’s vision of the kind of pantheism espoused by Benedict Spinoza. One of several points of contentions I have is Shelley’s opinion that beliefs are involuntary. At least he used this idea to good effect, arguing that atheism shouldn’t be persecuted (something that the University of Oxford college heads disagreed with him about). Shelley continued to espouse unpopular ideas for the remainder of his life – he just never learned, and that’s what an Oxford education is all about.

My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Rambling on my Way Out

My return has taken much longer than I expected since I announced my sabbatical. Since then, one of my processors crashed, and I lost all of my blog backups and a whole series of drafts. It was a major loss, since I had been working on some posts that took several months to put together. One was an atheist hymnal that included well over 100 entries – everything from old favorites like Plastic Jesus to hard rock anthems. A couple were close to being ready to publish, including Sitzpinkel and God’s opinion, little-known facts about the Hamilton-Burr duel, and a piece about “clean” coal and “safe” nuclear power.

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Where are They Now?

There are several bloggers and YouTube producers who have made a big impact on me. Several just disappeared suddenly after building a large audience, and I’m curious if anyone knows what happened. The first was Stephanie, better known as LovingDoubt. She made YouTube videos that could suck the viewers in and make them want to know more about how she first became a Pentecostal fundamentalist and then turned to the dark side and was seduced by powers of atheism. (I’m not portraying what she said properly, so don’t let your opinions be influenced by me.) Like most others who achieved success in the on-line world, she understood the magic of how to tell a story, and she had an incredible sense of humor.

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Returning to my Roots

A week ago, I visited Elizabethton and Jonesborough, TN. If you’ve never been there, Jonesborough is the oldest town (founded in 1779) in Tennessee. Chester Inn (built in 1797) is popular for people coming into town by stagecoach but is closed to anyone else. The Salt House (which sold salt for $15 a sack in 1864) is still there and is supposed to open as a restaurant in 2008. Someone missed their cue on the date. It’s easy to lose a whole day just on Main Street.

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A Reminiscence for Afghanistan

In nearly ten years in Afghanistan, we’ve done admirably in continuing Russia’s legacy of reducing the country to a rubble heap, and at the same time, we’ve successfully managed to install a secular government. Now that Bin Laden is dead, Afghanistan seems to have served its purpose, and some of the same enthusiastic boosters who wanted us in there, now want us out, leaving the country to fend for itself.

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