Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Stevie Joe Lands a Blow Against Religious Strife

Creating world peace is a pretty tall order. I'm taking it a piece at a time. I figure that forming some understanding between those with different religious views is a good place to start.

So, I've been pondering a bunch of stuff that the late genius and blowhard Christopher Hitchens had written and said over the years. In particular, I was attracted to his views of religion as he expressed them in a series of public debates with a number of folks defending the practice. Hitchens was an atheist and quite proud of the fact. I don't know if he was right, but he certainly made a better case than most of his opponents.

In any case, in one debate with author David Berlinski, Hitch spoke of his respect for Socrates. He said that today we have the words attributed to Socrates and that we have some evidence that Socrates did, in fact, exist. If, however, we were to somehow discover that Socrates never did exist and was, rather, a fictional character, it would have little impact upon the importance of his words. On the other hand, Hitch continued, if it was found that Jesus did not actually exist, it would ruin Berlinski's life. Berlinski ceded this point.

So, it appears that we have a divide, but if we dig a little deeper, the divide might not be as wide as it appears. The presumption in this argument is that the value of Jesus' words is that they come from the Son of God and that the words have little value without this supernatural origin. I think that is a mistake. If Jesus speaks the truth, it is still the truth if it is spoken by Dickie Jensen (however improbable that may be).

Evidence of this presumption can be seen in the argument that our system of laws and beliefs has its origin in the Ten Commandments (as argued by some folks of faith). If you follow the logic, we would never have figured out that murder and stealing are bad ideas if God didn't tell us so. How folks raised outside the Judeo-Christian tradition reached this conclusion is an apparent mystery.

Further analysis of the Ten Commandments provides some confirmation that the importance of these values does not come from above. After all, the creation of graven images and coveting of stuff is the basis of the US economy. So, why are these commandments held in the same regard as those against murder and theft? Ol' Stevie Joe would argue that the importance society places in these things comes not because they are the word of God but because they have a universal value, or a universal truth, separate from that of religious belief. An atheist can certainly believe that killing is wrong without having to believe in a Judeo-Christian God.

So, this opens the door for the concept of an atheist or, at least, an agnostic view of Jesus. One should be able to discern the value in what Jesus taught separately from a belief in a supernatural being. Why cannot this be the common ground between Hitchens and Berlinski? Can we agree on the value of the teachings of Jesus without having to agree on the whole question of God?

Something to ponder anyway.

Can I get a witness?
Stevie Joe Parker

Friday, December 9, 2011

Job Fair at the Junebug Cafe

So, after yesterday's post, the good citizens of this fine burg decided to offer some employment advice to me over breakfast down at Prudy's. While it was certainly entertaining, I'm not sure that I walked away with any better plan than I had going in. Here are some of the suggestions: beer wholesaler (nice try, Junior), cowboy, politician (not a chance), porn actor (it disturbs me that this idea came from Dickie Jensen), astronaut (Junior, again), truck driver (given the amount of crap WalMart sells, probably a good idea), and gas station attendant (free smokes, Junior?). See what I have to deal with here?

Carpin' About the Diem,
Stevie Joe Parker

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Once More Unto the Breech . . .

"Once more unto the breech, dear friends, once more" - Henry V

Just over a year ago I last posted here. At that time I was attempting a Stevie Joe "comeback" after being knocked silly by Life. I had confidence that the bad times had reached bottom and it was time for me to move again forward. Yet, Life often laughs at such hubris. What I thought was bottom was nothing but a brief pause on the descent to madness and despair.

Mrs. Stevie Joe was gone, and I had come to terms with that. However, there was more. I had been a corporate cowboy and then a small business owner. I was a "big shot" in the Holler, but the allure of owning my own business had faded and the tanking economy took a toll on the pocketbook.

So, what to do? My old corporate employer doesn't even exist anymore, and the big business world doesn't need any wayward sons returning home when there are so many new, young recruits hungry for work. Besides, nobody does what I used to do within a hundred miles of Junebug Holler and hell if I'm moving back to the city.

I'm pretty damn good at pontificating. In fact, I'm probably the best in the Holler, but that isn't saying much. Nobody wants to pay to hear your pontificating unless you're already famous for something.

So, I go from being the hotshot, the talk-of-the-town (such as it is) to pretty much nobody. That's a big change for Stevie Joe. On top of that, the prospects for the future aren't looking too bright.

Sure, I could go back to school and retrain for a new field. I already have a master's degree, but that and a five-spot gets you a mocha cappuccino at Starbucks. I need new skills for the 21st century, and they don't come cheap. The local community college charges more for a single class that I paid for a complete semester 25 years ago. I'm not excited about the prospect of spending $100K or more to get back to the earning power I had in 1990.

So, here I am - sitting drinking a beer with Junior and Dickie in Junebug Holler and contemplating my place in this big old world. I'm not going to pretend that I've got it figured out, and I won't make any claims regarding bouncing back lest Life have another surprise for me. I'm just going out swinging and seeing where the punches fall.

Anyway, folks have pointed out that I write a lot and maybe I should look at that. Writing a lot and getting paid for it are two different things, but what the hell. I'll write and write and write and see what happens. So, for better or worse, expect to hear more from ol' Stevie Joe going forward.

The Game is Afoot!
Stevie Joe Parker