This week’s Quick Takes theme (for as long as I can sustain it) is interfaith dialogue. If you’re not a regular reader of this blog, I’d like to invite you to stick around this week to help judge the our first ever ideological Turing Test (inspired by Bryan Caplan). This week, a slate of atheists and Christians will all answer questions intended for atheists honestly, or as they expect atheists would answer them. It’s up to you to vote and see if you can spot the impostors or if the contestants know the arguments of the other side well enough to replicate them. The next week, the entire group will try and answer questions for Christians, and the pressure will be on the atheist side.
You can look through the contest questions here and get a better sense of the set-up. I’ll hope you’ll stick with us through the week. One last inducement: I’m contributing answers and so is my nice Catholic boyfriend, and we have a side competition on to see which of us is better at writing like the other. Game on.
In a different part of the blogosphere, Hemant Mehta the Friendly Atheist is partnering with Christian Rachel Held Evan (author of Evolving in Monkey Town) to help foster a little interfaith understanding. Rachel is starting a series where she’ll recruit non-Christians to answer the questions of her (primarily) Christian audience. I look forward to following this project, and, if you’re Christian, you’re invited to propose questions on her blog.
And if you’re Christian and looking for a way to return the favor, may I suggest looking at my Guest Posting tab? This week, we’ve been having a conversation about what Christians expect the adverse consequences of gay marriage will be. I’m not looking for research prospectuses, and it’s all right if you’re worried about something that you don’t think atheists like me recognize as harm. I just want to get a better sense of the premises of the other side, so we can try for a productive conversation.
Well, that’s all the interfaith opportunities I have on tap, so it’s time for the semi-forced transition. Interfaith discussion is all about opening doors. You know what else is all about opening doors? This BBC segment on lockpicking in the Victorian age. (h/t TYWKIWDBI)
Due to the poor reviews for Pixar’s Cars 2, I have no plans to see it, but I am glad it exists, if only because it produced an amusing reverie at io9. Their reviewer was captivated by the fact that, in Pixar’s car-centric world the Catholic Church was run by a Popemobile that itself was carried around in a larger, sentient Popemobile.
This detail prompted the reviewer to make a list of the necessary implications of this piece of car-theodicy including:
Car Pope = Car Celibacy
Cars can’t sexually reproduce in Cars 2 — maybe some underground morlocks off-screen build them, remember the Maximum Overdrive paradigm — but some cars have sworn off sexual intercourse. WRAP YOUR HEAD AROUND THAT.
Meanwhile, I still don’t have a drivers license.
I almost always enjoy reading Experimental Theology, but I especially want to recommend Richard Beck’s recent post about reading through the Beatitudes with the prison bible study he leads. One of the most shameful things our country does is to put people who have strayed into an environment that makes it all but impossible to live morally or charitably.
Finally, I don’t know if you’ve been following the grim news coming out of Syria. The government’s crackdowns have been brutal. As is sadly often the case, soldiers are trying to put down the revolutionaries by using the tactics of terror, including rape of women protestors or female relatives of male protestors. In Syria’s conservative culture, rape victims are often murdered in honor-killings or, at best, cut off from society and prevented from ever having a marriage or a family.
However, a group of young men involved in the protests have pledged to marry the victims of retributive rape. These men are transcending their time and their culture, and, although their actions cannot fix pervasive sexism and misogyny, it gives me hope that progress is possible.
[Seven Quick Takes is a blog carnival run by Jen of Conversion Diary]