Thursday, February 23, 2006


Sonia tagged me. I am supposed to tag 4 other bloggers, but I promised I wouldn't do this after the Book Meme:

1: Black and White or Color; how do you prefer your movies?
Color. Some movies belong in black & white such as "The Wind", "M", or even "Shadows and Fog". But some old movies are in black & white just because the director didn't have a choice.

2: What is the one single subject that bores you to near-death?
I am not easily bored, but there is still more than one. "Other People's Sex Life" springs to mind.

3: MP3s, CDs, Tapes or Records: what is your favorite medium for prerecorded music?
Probably CDs. I haven't really gotten into MP3s, and I don't quite trust the medium for long-term storage. I mostly listen to tapes in the car, but that is just because I am too lazy to install a CD player. You can probably tell that music isn't a big part of my life, huh?

4: You are handed one first class trip plane ticket to anywhere in the world and ten million dollars cash. All of this is yours provided that you leave and not tell anyone where you are going … Ever. This includes family, friends, everyone. Would you take the money and ticket and run?
Socrates refused to leave Athens when his life was at stake. I would be embarrassed to betray family, friends, and church for a mere $10 million.

5: Seriously, what do you consider the world’s most pressing issue now?
The most pressing issue has always been our long war against God. The most obvious manifestation of that war seems to be the spread of Islam. Go ahead and tell me in the comments how stupid I am for not acknowledging that Islam is a valid approach to God...

6: How would you rectify the world’s most pressing issue?
Pray. Evangelize. Try to set a good example. (Oh, wait, that's redundant.)

7: You are given the chance to go back and change one thing in your life; what would that be?
I never look back and I don't really subscribe to the Donny Darko school of Calvinism, so this question is kind of meaningless to me. There are plenty of things that I have done that a better person wouldn't have. But I suspect that changing those things would make me a different person, and I can't consciously will my own destruction.

To put this a little less abstractly, in High School I used to fight with my girlfriend constantly. While I shouldn't have done that, the knowledge of my failure to live up to even my own low standards eventually led me to Christ. And if I had stayed with her, I never would have met my wife and she might not have returned to the faith without my encouragement. So who would have been better off?

8: You are given the chance to go back and change one event in world history, what would that be?
This is just the Donny Darko question with a bigger bunny suit. The same principle applies.

That said, I do wish the crusaders had not sacked Constantinople in 1204. But that event came at the nadir of a whole series of disasters and villainy so I have a hard time singling it out for correction.

9: A night at the opera, or a night at the Grand Ole’ Opry –Which do you choose?
Uggh. Can't I just give them both my ticket and $10 million and make them go away? Unless you count Gilbert and Sullivan as opera which I adore.

10: What is the one great unsolved crime of all time you’d like to solve?
Jack the Ripper, if only because he is a discredit to the name.

11: One famous author can come to dinner with you. Who would that be, and what would you serve for the meal?
Ayn Rand and C. S. Lewis, together. I'm not sure what I'd serve. Probably pizza.

12: You discover that John Lennon was right, that there is no hell below us, and above us there is only sky — what’s the first immoral thing you might do to celebrate this fact?
Piss on John Lennon's grave? Seriously, this is the wrong question on so many levels I hardly know where to begin.

First, the assumption that Christians are motivated by threat of hell or bribery of heaven is inaccurate (though perhaps understandable). These are often motivations to convert (since the natural man is primarily motivated by self-interest) but after conversion one comes to love truth, goodness and beauty for their own sake (or for God's sake which ammounts to much the same thing).

Second, assuming there is no transcendant standard, it makes no sense to talk about committing "immorality". One never acts immorally from one's own conscious perspective, actions can only be judged immoral from an external standard (ie God's, Society's or Freud's inernalized Superego, which is distinct from the conscious Ego).

Third, it makes little sense to talk about committing immoral acts "in celebration". Immorality is only fun if it is contrast to a standard that is perceived as tyrannical or unreasonable. If there were really no such standard, immorality would be seen for what it is -- self-destructive and harmful to others. This is assuming you can get over the contradiction mentioned in point 2.

Finally, on a more personal note, I reject the entire premise of the question. When I was an atheist, I felt that the only intellectually honest response to a godless universe was a desire to destroy all false promises of happiness. That initially meant religion and social mores, of course, but I eventually came to see that it pretty much included all personal illusions such as emotion, pleasure and damn near everything else. Pain and pleasure are only truly appreciated in memory -- the actual experience is gone by the time you can identify it. But who will remember those subjective experiences five minutes after I am dead? The thing that kept me from being a full-blown anarchist/nihilist was that I could never answer an even more important question: who will experience my intellectual honesty five minutes after I am dead?


sonia said...

That was deep! Especially the last few paragraphs...

The sacking of Constantinople in 1204 ? That's actually a brilliant answer. I can think of few events in history that had more serious ripple effect than this one. If this didn't happen, Turks probably wouldn't evict Greeks from Anatolia, Balkans wouldn't be occupied, Archduke Ferdinand wouldn't be killed in Sarajevo, no WWI, no Soviet Revolution, no WWII, no Auschwitz, no Hiroshima...
A totally different alternate history...

Aaron said...

Great post Jack...

Glad to see you have a comment box open as well.

Dinner sometime?