Monday, October 24, 2016

The Function of Apologetics

I have few evangelical Christians in my life or on my Facebook page anymore.  However, the other day one of them made a comment regarding Yahweh, Hillary Clinton, and abortion.  Hillary was bad because of her pro-choice position.  I commented on his page that, Yahweh does not serve as a good moral contrast, citing Deuteronomy 21 where Yahweh instructs his followers to stone their children if they are stubborn and rebellious.

Another friend interjected that I was taking that verse out of context (no one ever complains about context when the pleasant stuff is quoted).  She provided a link to an article that explained why that verse didn't really say what it seemed to say.  I responded:

As I read through that article, it does little to alleviate the severity of that scripture. For me, at the end of the day, there is no context where I am going to watch the stoning of a child and walk away with an explanation that would justify it to me.

I suspect that when a Christian reads a similar scripture in the Koran, an apologetic explanation would carry no further for them either. They would read it and find it horrific, regardless of explanations their Muslim friend might offer them.

I live in the heart of Mormondom. My evangelical friends have dozens of critiques of Mormon scriptures and history – and Mormons have an answer for every one of them (e.g. Do those answers work? For the Mormon, yes… but not for the evangelical.

The function of apologetics is not to change the mind of the unbeliever- it is to quiet the mind of the believer. No matter the religious stripe, a believer will readily accept an explanation that holds zero water for someone outside the faith. Why? Because the believer is already 95% convinced. They just need the assurance that somewhere out there, the question has been asked and answered. With that assurance in mind, they can proceed along the path – calm and content.

It was the same for me back when I was a believer. The shift came when I began to apply the same standards of judgment to my own religion as well as to others. If something was unacceptable for another religion, then it had to be unacceptable for mine. No longer would I use one set of rules for my beliefs and a different set for the belief of the other. Goal posts did not get to change location depending on whose side was being defended.

I encourage everyone to use the same measure for your faith that you do for others. If you are giving your faith a pass, give that same pass to other faiths. If you have a criticism of another faith, use that same scale for your own.

Rather than engaging my thoughts on the article, she replied, "You are an apostate so I expect that from you."

This exchange was a reminder of why I rarely engage these kinds of exchanges anymore.  Outside the evangelical sphere I am a father, teacher, friend, husband, actor, singer, writer, etc.  Inside the evangelical sphere there is no need to look any further than apostate.

Her shared article served its purpose.  It did nothing to change the mind of this unbeliever, but it soothed her believing mind and halted any possible questions right there.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Does Anyone Listen To The Radio Anymore?

The morning after the Hillary/Trump debate, I decided to pause my usual podcast/audiobook listening to hear radio commentary on the event. What a miserable time that turned out to be. On my drive in to work, over half that time was spent on commercials. What talk there was, occurred in snippets.
I have become spoiled by podcasts. I am used to listening to hour long conversations, rather than 8 minute segments.
Yesterday, I accidently killed my podcast list within the app and have been slowly rebuilding it over the past 24 hours. Here are my primaries that were added back immediately.
  • Skeptics Guide to the Universe - This one is fairly new for me, but has become a favorite. Great science and critical thinking information and discussion - and accessible to a layman like me.
  • Nerdist - A deep catalog of conversations with various artists, musicians, actors, etc. My music and movie choices have been expanded due to this show. Did you know Iggy Pop is fascinating to listen to and seems to be a really great guy? My world expanded.
  • Real Time - I don't have HBO, but they put the whole show up on Podcast each week. I think Bill has some of the best panels out there.
  • Fatman on Batman - I love Kevin Smith. He is a great guy and his enthusiasm for life, comics, and movies is contagious. He also is crazy profane, so it's not for everyone.
  • Beyond The Pale - My brother and sister-in-law do a podcast in Hong Kong. It focuses on the more progressive end of Christianity, but also includes plenty of movies, politics, and adult beverages. I have been on their show a number of times and we are talking about doing it again soon when a topic presents itself. Got any ideas?
While I am rebuilding my podcast database, what are your suggestions for must-listens?

Friday, September 23, 2016

More Podcasting With Beyond The Pale

This past July we three Hackman boys headed back to Shelby Township, Michigan to bid a final farewell to the Hackman Homestead.  My parents, after 40 years on Woodbridge Drive, are doing what most retirees in Michigan do... move to Florida.

While there, my Hong Kong based brother and sister-in-law brought out their podcasting equipment and we sat down with some adult beverages to record an episode.  This was the second time they have had me on their show, Beyond The Pale.  Like last time, our conversation was long enough to justify it being split into a few episodes.

As always, we had a great conversation.  However, this time had the added benefit of my wife chiming in about half way through.  Mary Lee and I have similar, and very different, tales to tell about our journeys out of the evangelical faith we were brought up in. I am glad we were able to include some of her story in our conversation.

You can listen online here:

Episode 021: Time For Christians To Grow Up with Andrew Hackman

Bonus: Race In America

Episode 022: "So I Married A Heretic" with Marylee & Andrew Hackm...

and our previous conversation last winter...

Episode 004: My Brother's Journey to Atheism (Pt 1)

Episode 005: My Brother's Journey To Atheism (Pt2)

If you are an Apple user, you can find Beyond the Pale at ITunes.

You can also keep up with Beyond the Pale on Facebook

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Trump - San Dimas High School Football Rules!

I have been a teacher for 24 years.  As such, I can't help listening to Donald Trump with a teacher's ear. I get a student or two like Trump every year. Trump is that student who doesn't study or prepare for a presentation, but skims through the material for a few key words.  He then stands in front of the class and BS's his way through, hoping that getting a laugh or two from his fellow students will distract from the fact that he doesn't know his material.

Trump is the alpha bully student who has the admiration of his fellow trouble makers.  When they insult minorities, women, and the disabled, they get in trouble. But somehow, when he does it, he gets away with it. This earns him a backwards form of respect from the ne'er-do-well.

Trump is the high school jock at the end of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure... mumbling through an ill prepared history essay.  Having nothing of substance to offer, he throws up his hands at the end in a victory salute and shouts, "San Dimas High School football RULES!" This brings the student body to their feet in applause, while the teachers roll their eyes.

But this isn't high school. We aren't voting for prom king. Popularity and adolescent adulation are not going to get the work of the United States presidency accomplished.

Trump is no more qualified than Biff Tannen for the highest office in our land.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Perfect Storm for Trump

Trump literally knows nothing when it comes to the issues he would handle as president. Yet, that does not matter for much of the electorate because he taps into some fear or red meat point that they cannot resist. He :

1. has team support. For many republicans, it simply does not matter how unprepared he is - there is an R next to his name, end of story.

2. has "frat" boy support. Certain personalities love alpha male bluster. His tendency to upgrade his trophy wife every decade or so and bling his name everywhere is seen as a sign of strength.

3. has the racist/bigot crowd. From the blatant David Duke to the person who starts every bigot rant with "I'm not a racist, but..." These folks get all warm and fuzzy every time Trump announces, "I am NOT politically correct!"

4. has the xenophobes. America is a country of immigrants where many fear the latest batch of immigrants.

5. has the bumpkin vote. Trump will get the vote of every moron who resents people who have a high vocabulary. The more ignorance he shows, the more they like him - he speaks their language.

Any of these groups, on their own, do not have a lot of voting power. But for the first time, we have a candidate who can appeal to all of those subgroups. Their combined awfulness may just get him in the White House.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Children and Religion

The video above is an enlightening watch. As I viewed it, I had a number of flashbacks to my own childhood. I traveled in religious circles and attended a school where being "slain in the Spirit", as shown here, was very normal.

The expressions on the faces of the children are so telling - Is this what I am supposed to do? Am I supposed to fall? Is that what you want? Should I be scared?

You can see which children have not yet been brought into the culture and which ones know the game.

And it is a game. It has rules and rewards. You can play it well and you can play it poorly. Acceptance and popularity within the community are determined according to your participation. Whatever one's flavor of religion, you are often instructed from your youngest age how to navigate the culture of your religious community. There are behaviors and rituals which will give you words and looks of affirmation if you partake. There are also ideas and practices which solicit community dismay.

This can sound nefarious, but I don't think that is necessarily so. Impressionable children accept these things because the community encourages it... but likewise, the community received the same directives when they were children... and so on... and so on.

I do think parents can instruct their children without indoctrinating them.  Parents can present information impartially and teach their children to make reasonable judgements. However, it takes a lot of intentionality.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

See You At The Tee Box!

It took until my late 40s, but I finally am into sports. Playing that is, not watching.  Also, it is only one sport.

Disc Golf.

My love of disc golf, like most things in life, happened by chance. I went with some friends one evening to give disc golf a try.  They had played before, years ago, and wanted to give it another run. I did not imagine that I would particularly enjoy the game, but it was something to do.

One game led to another game, and another.  I became interested enough to buy my own discs. I watched some videos to improve my throw.

Before I knew it, I was hooked.

As I thought about it, I realized it grabbed me on a few levels:

1. It is a chatty sport - I enjoy conversation and this was a sport that let me do that.  I grew up playing baseball, and baseball was enjoyable, but not very talkative.  Most sports are all about the game itself.  Disc Golf is another way for me to further conversation.  I have played a few rounds solo, but this sport is best when played with friends.

2. It makes me walk - Most of my pleasures in life are pretty sedentary.  Disc Golf gets me moving. A course it typically 2-3 miles of walking, often at varying elevations.

3. It is FREE - Well, mostly free.  I have invested a few hundred dollars in discs and bags, but to go out and play a round only costs you the gas to take you there.

4. Disc collecting - I have a strand of my personality that likes collecting things.  Discs tap into that. Discs have three distinct purposes -  Driver, mid-range, and putter.  A disc will then vary according to a scale on how far it will throw, and where and when it will turn.  There is quality of plastic. They also differ in weight from 130-180 grams.  Then there is color and print.  I presently have around 40 discs... which is probably 25 more than I actually need.
Disc golf is often compared to traditional ball golf, but I actually find it more analogous to miniature golf.  In disc golf, you spend a lot of time going around, under, and over obstacles.  Big, open power drives exist, but probably on less than a third of the baskets.  Some disc golf courses exist entirely within the woods.

By the way, disc golf goes great with beer.

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