Lovely Mead's Bay in Anquilla, where I have been hanging out for the last week. Sadly, a travel day tomorrow and then reality on Tuesday -- 9:00 Am meeting in Richmond, followed by depositions on Thursday, collective bargaining on Friday, and up to Philly on the following Tuesday. My beach glow should be faded by then. Ah, but at least Stanley returns on Tuesday.
- I was struck by this piece in the Times today in which Susan Jacoby tries to argue for the comforts of atheism. She specifically suggests that in the wake of the Newtown tragedy that atheists should not be shy about offering the blessings of non-belief. And, as an atheist I have to ask, what exactly would those be? To say to the parents of the dead children that what you have loved and cared about most in your life is irretrievably gone, permanently ripped from you by a meaningless act of incomprehensible violence, but hey, at least it wasn't the work of an indifferent God? Atheism isn't about comfort, it's about the void, the finite, the capricious and the tenuous. It accepts that there is no happily ever after, no meaning (beyond that which we create) -- that there is one precious life and it can be snuffed out at a moment's notice, while the survivors' own lives are crushed. These seem like grim thoughts to generate here in paradise, but it drives me crazy for people to suggest solace where none exists. If you want to own the rigors of non-belief, you have to accept where those hard truths lead you. We "hang by a slender thread" with not even an angry God to possibly save us. We hope for the best, try to enjoy the beauty that this indifferent universe grants us, and strive to create a better world for those sharing this one life with us, not because of the reward of the afterlife, but because a spirit of solidarity with our fellow doomed creatures speaks to us. There is, in short, nothing in atheism to comfort the parents of dead six year-olds -- save a respectful silence and acknowledgment of the grief that nothing can really heal.
Well now that I have brightened up your day, what say ye?