Tuesday, December 18, 2012

NY Times on Tebow: An Atheist's Amazing Analysis

In an article published at American Thinker last year, I argue that there was a certain magic in Tim Tebow's 2011 NFL performance.  From a broad political perspective, I argue, "He is a personification of the traditional American belief that if people work hard, believe in themselves, and have the humility to believe in something greater than they are, they can exceed what the collective believes them to be capable of.  That the impossible can become possible, even if only for a short while."

In short, a miracle.  But not the kind of miracle that only Christians can relate to -- not the kind that specifically require that you imagine it is the result of God's touch.  It is something innate in human nature, an indescribable component of humanity that we desire such outcomes, and revel in watching events unfold.  I believe that people want to see miracles, as a world where such things can happen is a beautiful world. An interesting world.

But then, I am Christian, albeit of the less devout persuasion.  Stephen Marchie of the New York Times, an atheist, approaches miracles from a different angle.  Though he admits that he was captivated by Tebow's incredible 7-4 record last year and the unexpected success, he describes that he was relieved to see Tebow fail against the Patriots in the playoffs.  "My stomach began to relax," he writes.  The material world made sense. The Patriots won. The problem of joy was momentarily solved."

This is amazing perspective. Where Christians generally want to see miracles, and find them to be an affirmation of their worldview, some atheists, like Marchie, find miracles to be a repudiation of their worldview, and their natural inclination is to be more comfortable in the thought that miracles just don't happen. Nonetheless, he admits that he, too, relishes these unexplained miracles, these gut-wrenching moments of joy -- like the one he relates in the article, in which his friend's 3 year old daughter tumbled down a stairwell in inexplicable, perhaps even miraculous, safety.

He explains that when he discovered she was unhurt, he "kept randomly repeating, “That was a miracle.” It was the only phrase I could come up with. I didn’t know how to deal with inexplicable good fortune. Even after my friends returned to New York, the strange constriction in my chest persisted.

He goes on: 
Christians famously have the problem of pain: how can a benevolent and omnipotent god permit evil to exist? But atheists like myself have our own paradox to contend with: the problem of joy. Why do randomly good things happen? In Graham Greene’s “The Power and the Glory,” a priest gives the explicit defense of their reality to his Red Shirt captor: “Can’t you see the doctors round the dead man? He isn’t breathing anymore, his pulse has stopped, his heart’s not beating: he’s dead. Then somebody gives him back his life, and they all — what’s the expression? — reserve their opinion. They won’t say it’s a miracle, because that’s a word they don’t like.” C. S. Lewis described his conversion to Christianity as a process of being “surprised by joy.”
Emmy was my confounding miracle, my joyful surprise. How had she survived without a single scrape? It didn’t make sense, and I couldn’t make it make sense.
The article (found here) is simply fantastic, and I urge all readers to give a moment to check it out.  Personally, my more recent experience with atheists has been that there is an implied arrogance in their opinion, and an immediate rejection of anything religious, often in the form of anger and ridicule.  (For example, Richard Dawkins linked my article, a critique of fundamentalist Islam, to his website, where the mere possibility that I might be a Christian was enough for many readers and commenters to write off my opinion that they might otherwise agree with -- if I were an atheist and anti-religion)  

This seems to me a respectful analysis, written with a certain humility, deep introspection, and impressive craft.

And furthermore, I agree with his conclusion.  The Jets should let Tebow play.

William Sullivan

Thursday, December 13, 2012

America Shows Union Thugs in Lansing the True Meaning of "Solidarity"

This, friends, warms the heart and musters hope.

Clint Tarver, well known in the Lansing area as “The Hot Dog Guy,” had his hot dog cart- the source of his livelihood- destroyed by frothing-at-the-mouth, stark-raving-mad union thugs who launched a bitter protest in opposition to state legislature measures to implement a “right to work” policy for Michigan workers.

What these protesters seem most opposed to is the fact that  a”right to work” policy will give workers the option to not take part in a union, not pay dues, and not have their money fill Democratic politicians’ war chests. This will significantly hamstring the unions’ advantage in negotiating workers’ wages and benefits with the taxpayers who pay for them. And I use the word “negotiating” loosely. In this regard, “negotiation” is more akin to Don Corleone “negotiating” a job for his nephew Johnny Fontane.

How'd He Do That?

Democrat leaders and union bosses understand the danger this portends, so they are warning of “civil war” and “blood in the streets” of Michigan if the unions are not appeased. Likely, that’s why union thugs took to the streets like a gaggle of old, fat Mafioso thugs and raised hell, punching those that disagree with them and destroying a man’s hot dog cart because they arbitrarily judged him to have been part of anti-union efforts. 

The extent to which unions should be able to influence public policy is a conversation we need to have, but union thuggery makes that pretty difficult. The most aggravating thing, for me, is that unions accuse their opposition of being in the wrong, when they are patently guilty of extortion, intimidation, assault, and in some cases, like AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka, curiously implicated with a non-union agitator being shot in the back of the head.

But amidst all this, there is hope. Lorilea Susanne has created a webpage to help Mr. Tarver replace his hot dog stand that the union drones destroyed. As she’s made perfectly clear, it is not political for her. It is just an effort to show solidarity to support a good, hard working man who was clearly wronged. And America responded in spades. The initial goal was to raise $2,000. In just a day, the webpage accumulated over $28,000, and has already linked the funds to Mr. Tarver’s account. (You may donate here, if you please)

To me, there could not be more a more stark contrast to union “solidarity” on display in Lansing. Americans don’t identify with Mr. Tarver because he is a member of their club and agree with their politics. I don’t know his political affiliation, nor do I care. But as is my right, I will offer my rather political opinion on why he has garnered so much support from Americans everywhere.

It is because he is an industrious entrepreneur, and he adds value to his community by doing a good job that warrants voluntary, repeated business. He does not demand that his community pay a specific price for his hot dogs, and then become violent when they counteroffer with a lower price.  This is precisely why he is worthy of admiration, and precisely why union goons like those in Lansing are not.

Furthermore, by all accounts, he is a good man. His reaction to the incident, as recorded on the Dana Loesch radio show, is evidence of that. Honest. As understanding as could be expected. And most of all, civil.

Thank you, Mr. Tarver. Thank you for showing America the yin to the yang of union thuggery. And may you and your family have a Merry Christmas.

  This post authored by William Sullivan, first published at Red Pill Report, found here.