Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Arab Spring: Doomed to Success

By
Sean Ewart

There is an undeniable movement across the Islamic world. Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Iran, Jordan, Yemen, Algeria, and so on, have seen protests, revolutions, and governmental change. The revolts are spontaneous, from the ground up, and massive. Yet have they really done anything? As much as I would like to comment on their successes and failures, it really is too soon to say much about their various outcomes. Tunisia does seem to be headed in a relatively positive direction, though it is balanced on the edge of a knife. Egypt may well be worse off than before the protests – unless the new military dictatorship gives up its power in September (I believe my “pessimism” is in this case something more like “realism”). Anyone who asserts far reaching predictions about the future of the region is headed into dangerous territory. I certainly am not qualified to predict the future of the Middle East. However, I can shed some light on the recent wave of revolution which has shook the Islamic world in the past year. The light shines from the past, from Europe in 1848 to be specific, and the parallels between the revolutions of that year and those of 2011 are striking.

The Tyranny of Hamas

By
Sean Ewart

It has been established that the tyranny of religious rule is unacceptable. Regardless of the religion, be it Tibetan Buddhism or Jewish Zionism, hyper-governmental religiosity is detrimental both to justice and reason. Yet, when the subject of Israeli injustice is dragged into the limelight, we would be remiss not to likewise discuss the Palestinians. In particular, due to the current debate on the situation in Gaza (and if you are uninformed of the open-air detention camp which Gaza has become, read the news), Hamas must be the center of our concern regarding the future of Israeli-Palestinian peace. The Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank, has at least been acting rationally in the past years – that is to say, in cold and indifferent self interest, something we in the West can understand and work with. Hamas presents a different problem, but one, paradoxically, which is similar to the problems facing us in Israel which I discussed in the article entitled, “Israel and America: An Unholy Bond.”

Israel and America: An Unholy Bond

By
Sean Ewart

There is near universal consensus, within the world of the thinking, that there is a problem with religious rule. The specter of institutionalized religion has raised its head the world round throughout the cumbersome history of humanity. Is there anything more horrifying than the irrational slaughter so deftly executed by the best theologians medieval Europe had to offer? Who can stop the inquisitor's blade which enacts the will of god? In modern terms, who would dare suggest that the people of Iran can govern better than Allah? Indeed, the god of the theocrat is the enemy of the people, the antithesis of justice, the manifestation of perverted reason. And yet, while there is little objection to what I have just written, within the Western intelligentsia, we overlook a specific breed of religious government.

The Myth of Religious Pluralism

By
Sean Ewart


Religious pluralism is the idea that there are many paths to 'god.' It is a kindhearted, though intellectually and theologically vacuous, notion born out of nothing more than wishful thinking. Wouldn't it be nice if everybody got along? Surely, but we are not in the position to define our realities by such dreams, and we do so at our peril. Religious dogmas, as attempts to explain the world, make actual claims about the way things are. By ignoring these claims we at once cheapen religion and harm our ability to engage the faithful throngs in meaningful ways. Either Jesus is the Son of God or he is not. Either he is the only way to salvation, as claimed in John 14, or he is not. There is no room for pluralism here. Religious pluralism is a myth disseminated in an attempt to moderate religious passions, it does not come out real religious scholarship, but is imposed on religion generally.

I Seek God, But I Seek Bread First

By
Sean Ewart

Where does religion fit into Maslow's hierarchy of human need? What priority, in other words, should we place on religion? This question is taken up again and again in religious (and secular) works, perhaps most strikingly in the Bible in the book of Haggai. Briefly, this book deals with the prophet Haggai and the Hebrews after they are returned to Israel after years of captivity in Babylon. The Hebrews had gotten to work rebuilding their homes, their families, and their lives as soon as they had arrived back in Israel. The prophet, however, was shocked by their behavior and called out, “is it a time for you to be living in your paneled houses while [the house of the Lord] remains in ruins?” The Hebrews had put their own physical needs before that of God's, they had put themselves first. But had they ever really abandoned their faith? Indeed, we cannot know whether or not they had rejected their faith, or simply their religion – an important definition.

Moral Truth: teaching doubt, not relativism.

By
Sean Ewart

There is a clear difference between a truth and a lie. In similar fashion, there is a divide between correct and incorrect answers. Four really is the only right way to answer the problem two plus two, this is true no matter where or when you are. There are definite things to know about the world, things which transcend culture, religion, national boundaries, race, etc. In other words, there is such a thing as absolute truth. This is as relevant to morality as it is to mathematics: that there exists right and wrong outside of our own personal interpretation.

Saved as an Atheist

By
Sean Ewart

This is a response to the article "Saved by an Atheist" found in Christianity Today. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/august/28.40.html


Atheism is a philosophy which should not exist. G.K. Chesterton was not far off when he said, “If there were no God, there would be no Atheists.” In fact, the position of atheism is as ridiculous as someone who calls himself an a-alchemist, or an a-toothfairist. It simply should not have to be said. However, in a world which is so defined by religion, we who do not believe must define ourselves as anti-theism. We simply do not accept that which is without evidence.

The Scourge of Santa

Why Religion is Dangerous

By
Sean Ewart




86% of Americans believed in Santa Claus as children. Its almost incredible that more didn't. The case for Santa Claus is so air tight, how could anyone not believe? It's thanks to evolution that we are programed to believe our parents and authority figures at a young age. And it's thanks to this that children first fall for the Santa myth, the betrayal of a trust formerly needed for survival. As if to add to the believability of the myth, young children are encouraged in this faith in schools, churches, and even in “historical” literature. Saint Nicolas, they are taught, is an eternal figure. But perhaps there are some children not willing to take their parents at face value. For them personal experience fills in the gaps in their faith. Letters arrive from Santa, presents confirm parental assertions, and the odd red light in the sky (usually a plane or telephone pole) is claimed to be Rudolf. A child's belief in Santa is certainly not blind; it is planted by trusted sources and encouraged by personal experience.