Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Huffington Post to cover "religion." Or, Huffington Post to "cover" religion.

Huffington Post has announced (ta-daaaa!!) a new section called "HuffPost Religion." Sure enough, the section--described by Arianna Huffington as "home to an open and fearless dialogue about all the ways religion affects both our personal and our public lives"--is up and running. And who is better qualified to sponsor such a "fearless dialogue"? This is, after all, the site that (four years back) published the Sam Harris essay "Science Must Destroy Religion." I can't think of any move half as logical, except maybe starting a feminist blog at a biker website.

But so far all we're getting, comment-section-wise, are the standard, phoned-in condemnations of "organized" (read: your parents') religion, few of them having squat to do with any actual topic raised--the "free thinkers" who populate the comment threads are certainly masters of the art of free-form (some might say, non sequitur) response. As ever, the cracks are about 9 to 1 in opposition to faith, and, blog-wise, there's no shortage of patronizing essays by scientists and such who revel in their presumed evolutionary superiority to mere regular humans. Many of these win all of their arguments using the ingenious method of refusing to consider any input that isn't theirs. Brilliant-person's License, I guess.

So, naturally, there have been non-stop complaints about an overwhelming pro-faith bias at the site. I'm not sure whether to describe such a disconnect as infinite or perpetual. Maybe "Huff-Postian."

Anyway, Arianna is convinced that some huge faith-vs.-science debate is taking place in America, or even across the globe, and I guess no one has the heart (or nerve?) to inform her that the issue is completely media-invented. In real life, most Americans are religious; meanwhile, in the same real life, science progresses by leaps and bounds. But where's the debate potential in that? Besides, we have best-sellers postulating the presence of such a species-defining conflict, and best-sellers never lie. And, we must admit, the U.S. is highly not pro-science in attitude. But guess what? In the U.S. we find the exact same lack of popular support for any kind of education, or any kind of spending that doesn't stuff the pockets of the "haves." Lack of regard for science is merely the tip of the lack-of-public-support iceberg. And, again, science is still holding up, and better than many streets and bridges across the land.

Not that Arianna's site--which plays host to the warped wisdom of Deepak Chopra, claims for crank remedies like body cleansing, anti-psychiatry essays, and the like--is very pro-science.

But, genuine debate or not, 'Po should have realized long ago that nothing amounting to conversation, meaningful or otherwise, takes place on their Religion "page." My best guess is that the site is trying for cyber-brownie points, and with no concern for actual results. Which makes the participation of folks like Paul Raushenbush and Jim Wallis practically shameful. This believer would take a pro-wrestling endorsement of his faith to a hundred HuffPost religion "dialogues."