The Daily Beethoven: 5/4 Why Einstein Didn’t Like Beethoven (Except the Missa Solemnis)

After his colleagues updated the music system they had given him five years earlier, Einstein began repeatedly to play an RCA recording of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. It was an unusual choice for two reasons. He tended to regard Beethoven, who was not his favorite composer, as “too personal, almost naked.” Also, his religious instincts did not usually include these sorts of trappings. “I am a deeply religious nonbeliever,” he noted to a friend who had sent him birthday greetings. “This is a somewhat new kind of religion.”- From Walter Isaacson’s Einstein: His Life and Universe (Simon and Schuster, 2007)

Source: The Daily Beethoven: 5/4 Why Einstein Didn’t Like Beethoven (Except the Missa Solemnis)


What Bernie Sanders can teach secular liberals about the value of faith

The ancient philosophers can attest that you don’t need to follow Jesus to be a true friend. But the sad fact is that “secular values” haven’t delivered us a culture of forbearance. In fact, they’ve done almost the opposite. Although observers — including some at Liberty — quickly confirmed that Sanders hadn’t changed a lot of minds, the point of his visit wasn’t the mind at all, but the heart, where we can embrace a kind of brotherhood or fellowship even when our rational, calculating minds have not been argued into capitulation.

James Poulos, Source: What Bernie Sanders can teach secular liberals about the value of faith

The Pope Is a Christian! by Garry Wills | The New York Review of Books

I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars. You have to heal the wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds.

Pope Francis, via The Pope Is a Christian! by Garry Wills | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books.

Any liberals for religious freedom? | Commonweal Magazine

The whole point of freedom of religion is that it protects an extraordinary gamut of differing, frequently conflicting cosmologies, spiritual disciplines, and moral codes.  They may include refusing to fight in defense of the nation, rejecting certain foodstuffs or medical treatments, discouraging young people from secondary or higher education, honoring celibacy or condemning a variety of sexual practices, sacrificing animals, drinking alcohol, or ingesting hallucinogens for ritual purposes, prescribing certain head coverings or hairstyles despite school or occupational rules, insisting on distinct roles for men and women, withdrawing from friends and family for lives of silence and seclusion, marching in prayer through neighborhoods on holy days, preaching on street corners or otherwise trying to convert others to these persuasions.

A great many of these beliefs and practices I disagree with.  Some I deplore. Religious freedom means I live with the fundamentalists who describe the pope as anti-Christ and my kind as hell-bound—and with the black nationalist sects who consider me a white devil.  Religious freedom means that I don’t have to send my children to the state schools if I choose not to nor does my Darwin-phobic neighbor.  It also means state schools or state events or state laws should not force people to participate in religious rituals or practices contrary to their consciences.

Religious freedom means that I may very well want to question, critique, refute, moderate or otherwise alter religious beliefs and practices that I find irrational or unhealthy or dehumanizing or, yes, bigoted; but knowing how deeply rooted and sincerely held these convictions are, and how much about the universe remains in fact mysterious, and how much about my own perceptions of reality could in fact be mistaken, and how much religions do in fact evolve over time, I accommodate myself in the meantime to peaceful coexistence and thoughtful engagement.  In particular I refuse to coerce religiously sincere people into personal actions that violate their conscience.  And I refuse to dismiss their resistance to such coercion as nothing but bigotry.

Peter Steinfels, Any liberals for religious freedom? | Commonweal Magazine.

‘Why Homer Matters,’ by Adam Nicolson –

The Romanian scholar of comparative religion Mircea Eliade called this basic human impulse — to connect our quotidian existence, through ritual and myth, with the lives and struggles of the great heroes of the past — the “eternal return.” In the telling and retelling of the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey,” we imbue our insignificant lives with meaning, transporting ourselves to a mythical time, while bringing the heroic age into our own.

Bryan Doerries, ‘Why Homer Matters,’ by Adam Nicolson –

Image ◊ Journal ◊ Editorial Statements ◊ Religious Humanism: A Manifesto

What do I mean by religious humanism? The theologian Max Stackhouse recently provided a simple but suggestive definition. “Humanity,” Stackhouse wrote, “cannot be understood without reference to God; and neither God nor God’s revelation can be understood except through the lens of thought and experience.”

Gregory Wolfe, via Image ◊ Journal ◊ Editorial Statements ◊ Religious Humanism: A Manifesto.

Richard Dawkins has lost: meet the new new atheists » The Spectator

It might sound odd to cite Alain de Botton as a critic of complacent self-regard, but this is central to his stated purpose. Attending to the religious roots of humanism can prod us out of seeing secular humanism as natural, the default position, and incite us to ponder our need for discipline, structure, community, and so on. At one point he commends the Christian perspective, that we are ‘at heart desperate, fragile, vulnerable, sinful creatures, a good deal less wise than we are knowledgeable, always on the verge of anxiety, tortured by our relationships, terrified of death — and most of all in need of God’. — Theo Hobson

via Richard Dawkins has lost: meet the new new atheists » The Spectator.

‘Spiritual’ people at higher risk of mental health problems – Telegraph

People who said said they had spiritual beliefs but did not adhere to a particular religion were 77 per cent more likely than the others to be dependent on drugs, 72 per cent more likely to suffer from a phobia, and 50 per cent more likely to have a generalised anxiety disorder.

via ‘Spiritual’ people at higher risk of mental health problems – Telegraph.

God and Country | Front Porch Republic

Only by keeping the state at arm’s length can churches enjoy moral autonomy.  Only by guarding that autonomy can they assist citizen-congregants in reaching informed moral judgments on what the state is doing or proposes to do.  For a nation such as ours, where the state wields enormous power pursuant to vast ambitions, those moral judgments are of critical importance. They provide the ultimate check against vanity, arrogance, excess, and self-deception.

via God and Country | Front Porch Republic.

At a news conference, Mr. Romney claimed that the administration had delivered “an apology for America’s values.” In fact, it had done no such thing: Religious tolerance, as much as freedom of speech, is a core American value. The movie that provoked the protests, which mocks the prophet Mohammed and portrays Muslims as immoral and violent, is a despicable piece of bigotry; it was striking that Mr. Romney had nothing to say about such hatred directed at a major religious faith.

The death of an ambassador – The Washington Post