Sam Harris is an atheist. We like a lot of what he writes and says. Just recently one of our readers sent us this statement of his, which we acknowledge, sadly, to be most probably true:
For the rest of our lives, and the lives of our children, we are going to be confronted by people who don’t want to live peacefully in a secular, pluralistic world, because they are desperate to get to Paradise, and they are willing to destroy the very possibility of human happiness along the way.
We have watched videos of him lecturing. We have read some articles of his. And all with appreciation. So when we were sent his new book for review, we expected to like it.
Do we like it?
To read Jillian Becker’s review of Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris, click on its title in our margin, under Pages.
In the midst of so much bad news, of wars and massacres and the decline of the West, we thought something cheerful would be a nice change.
Perfectly irrelevant to any of our concerns, here’s three-year old Lyonya Shilovsky, a Russian drummer, performing with the Novosibirsk Symphony Orchestra.
We first saw the little drummer boy at PowerLine, and captured the video from YouTube:
Every ethnicity, sexual proclivity, religion, body shape, etc., has a well-funded organization claiming the mantle of leadership on its behalf ready to jump (and fundraise) should someone string together words in an unapproved order.
There’s an effort to alter the First Amendment moving through the Senate right now, but there’s really no need for it. We, as a society, have voluntarily forfeited the reason for it already. The horse is dead; stop kicking it.
So Derek Hunter writes at Townhall.
He deplores the political correctness that is exercising a puritanical tyranny over free speech:
The political correctness movement ruined honest political discourse, funny movies and decent sitcoms, and now it’s sucking the joy out of everyday life …
It may seem like a lifetime ago, but it was only the 1970s when “Blazing Saddles” was made and embraced by a culture simply looking to laugh. It was offensive. It was silly. But most of all it was funny. Same goes for “Airplane!” Richard Pryor and George Carlin were mocking people and cultures, and it was hilarious.
Now we are no longer ready to laugh; we’re ready to be offended. No, we seem to crave being offended.
Not all of us, of course. But it’s amazing how many people like to complain that they are being victimized by something someone says.
A small deputation to this website asked us to find a word to describe people who make a point of taking offense.
A word is needed that will mark them. They constitute a national menace, demanding not just pity for themselves, but blame and severe penalty for their alleged offenders, abject apologies, and even the amendment – as Derek Hunter notes – of the free speech article, the essential First Amendment, of the Constitution.
We accepted the commission. We began to hunt for such a word. Surely, we reasoned, in the enormous vocabulary of the richest language in the world there is a word for them?
But it seems not. Political correctness is too recent a development in Western culture.
So we decided we would coin a word. A word that means: persons who crave an excuse to take offense; persons who are hurt-hungry.
Should we construct it from Greek words, we wondered. No: words in Greek for hurt, pain, offense, and hungriness do not blend and Anglicize smoothly.
Latin then? Yes. In Latin, pain (of body or mind) is dolor. Hungry is esuriens.
So we can construct a good strong word for the pain-hungry: the DOLORESURIENT.
Be not intimidated by it. It can obviously be shortened to a nice common English word to apply to the offense-collectors: DOLLIES.
With the connotations that word has, it could do very well to offend them.
Special offer from Endeavour Press:
From today, Tuesday January 14, 2014, for five days, their recent e-book edition of Hitler’s Children by Jillian Becker will be available free of charge.
“An important and highly readable book, thoroughly researched and written with the pace and excitement of a crime thriller.” – Times Literary Supplement.
“A splendid study of West German terrorism” – Golo Mann, Newsweek (Europe) Book of the Year.
“A thrilling narrative spun out of exact scholarship. I have not seen anything comparable to this book.” – William Stevenson, Author of A Man Called Intrepid and the screen play of 90 Minutes at Entebbe.
“I know of no one who has written on Ulrike Meinhof with such understanding and wise judgement as Jillian Becker.” – Renate Riemeck, Ulrike Meinhof’s foster-mother.
“Ulrike Meinhof’s life has been reconstructed here with immaculate attention to detail and with profound insight. With calm authority Mrs Becker reveals how it all happened, and many a contemporary feature looks clearer in the light of this fine book.” – David Pryce-Jones, Financial Times.
“The author’s approach is an admirable mixture of painstaking research, infinite understanding, nicely judged scepticism and a strong sense of irony. If to define a problem correctly is halfway to solving it, then the West Germans should give Jillian Becker a medal. She has posed the right questions and found the right answers.” - Dan van der Vat, Bonn correspondent of The Times (London).
“With an Anglo-Saxon pragmatic scepticism, the author presents the intellectual background of Ulrike Meinhof: the need to be different; the longing for strong feelings and sensations; the hatred of normal life; the dreaming of lawless action directed against the optimism of the bourgeoisie. Everything that is then added, from the anti-nuclear movement to the study of Marcuse, appears as the consequence of the religious, deeply romantic original experience. Nothing less than the German soul is being examined in this book.” – Karlheinz Bohrer, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
“I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.”
“I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my father, brother and almost all of my friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.”
“Besides love and sympathy, animals exhibit other qualities connected with the social instincts which in us would be called moral.”
“We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities … still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.”
“We can allow satellites, planets, suns, universe, nay whole systems of universe, to be governed by laws, but the smallest insect, we wish to be created at once by special act.”
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”
“I am not the least afraid to die.”
These are pictures of puritan judges in the Salem witchcraft trials.
It should be noted, however, that the one at the bottom might have got confused with Sarah Hall Ingram, of whom the Washington Post reports:
An Internal Revenue Service official criticized by Republicans for the agency’s controversial targeting of political groups denied practicing various forms of black magic during testimony before a House panel on Wednesday. Sarah Hall Ingram, former head of the IRS division that singled out tax-exemption applicants for extra scrutiny based on ideology, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that she has never practiced witchcraft or consorted with Satan. Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) prompted the exchange in an apparent attempt to mock Republicans who have demonized Ingram, now head of the IRS group that oversees certain aspects of President Obama’s healthcare law — namely by enforcing the “individual mandate” that requires all Americans to obtain health insurance.
So she is not a witch.
But, at some time or other, she was certainly one of the witch-hunters.
Who is the woman in the purple garment? (No prizes for correct answer.)