Nancy's Travelblogue

... there isn't a train I wouldn't take, no matter where it's going. -- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Location: California, United States

Friday, October 30, 2009

Where is God, and who cares, anyway?

I don't talk about it much, but my spiritual life is important to me. Karen Armstrong is my favorite religious writer, and something of a spiritual guide. So I was excited to find an article by her in the current print issue of Foreign Policy. She addresses current myths such as these, with cogent arguments. Here are some excerpts and paraphrases:

  • God is dead. NO, When Nietzsche announced the death of God in 1882, he thought that in the modern, scientific world people would not be able to understand religious faith. ... but it is only since 9/11 that God has proven to be alive and well beyond all question ....
  • God and politics shouldn't mix. NOT NECESSARILY. Theologically illiterate politicians have long given religion a bad name ... The manner in which religion is used in politics is more important than whether it's used at all. J. F. Kennedy and Barak Obama have invoked faith as a shared experience that binds the country together ...
  • God breeds violence and intolerance. NO, HUMANS DO. All fundamentalism -- Jewish, Christian, Muslim -- is rooted in a profound fear of annihilation. History shows that when these groups are attacked, militarily or verbally, they almost invariably become more extreme.
  • God is for the poor and ignorant. NO. The United States is the richest country in the world and the most religious in the developed world. None of the major religions is averse to business; each developed a nascent economy. Still, the current financial crisis shows the religious critique of excessive greed is far from irrelevant.
  • God is bad for women. YES
  • God is the enemy of science. HE DOESN'T NEED TO BE. Science has become an enemy of fundamentalist Christians who campaign against the teaching of evolution in public schools and stem cell research because they seem to conflict with biblical teaching. ... The conflict with science is symptomatic of a reductive idea of God in the modern West ...
  • God is incompatible with democracy. NO.

So I was horrified when I went to the Foreign Policy website to post the link to this article, and found a long litany of scathing comments for my favorite writer: "this is the stupidist article I've seen." "Dumb is right." "How can she miss the most essential points?" And so on. Is it me or the other readers who misses the point? FP is not a magazine I ordinarily read (I got it as a gift subscription), but I didn't know I was so out in the woods as to be 180 degrees off the mainstream.

Figure it out yourself at

Friday, October 02, 2009


We took a day off from real life today and played tourist in our own hometown. We got up early and took the Oakland/Alameda Ferry to San Francisco getting off at the Ferry Building Marketplace. That old Ferry Building that I remember as the tallest building on the skyline in the later 1950s, is no longer even visible on the skyline, thanks to the skyscrapers that popped up in San Francisco's boom years. No matter, it is a high class destination now -- much more than just a ferry hub. Now you can buy gourmet olive oil, gourmet wines, gourmet organic fruit, gourmet mushrooms and every other kind of gourmet yummy that you'd expect to find in San Francisco. With prices to match.

We stayed simple and started out at Peet's then moved over to Boulette's Larder for a fancy breakfast overlooking the wharf. Here is a photo of Jonathan's poached eggs on a pork and chard loaf. As you can see from the photos it was a sparkling autumn day, and lingered in the sun with our coffee and tea till almost lunch time.

Turns out today is Gandhi's birthday and we witnessed a lot of activity around Gandhi's statue on the Ferry Building Square. First we saw some gentlemen polishing his statue, next we saw a ceremony honoring this great man, and finally, I took a photo of with a wreath.

Our planned destination for the day was the Asian Art Museum, and we arrived there in the early afternoon. Wonderful exhibitions of early photography from India, China, Korea and Japan. Then on to the Southeast Asia galleries. I never tire of that museum and never stop learning. We stayed till closing time.

Which meant we took the ferry back to Oakland at the end of the day with the sun on the water. It was a scrumptious day, and testimony to the fact that if you live in the Bay Area you don't have to go far away to be on vacation.

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