Nuanced Beauty

The letters come tumbling in from all directions.

Ryan Georgioff finally finds us:

I have been searching desperately for people like you. For people who see beauty in life, but not in the way that most people do; in a deeper, more nuanced existence.

These thoughts have been my muse as well, and I have been recently applying my brain and my fingers to writing out the logical progressions of my humanistic proclivities.

You say that you are interested in using the Internet as a kind of temple for our disenchanted fellows. If you are interested, I have been posting my personal thoughts and reflections on my own blog, and if you have any interest in perusing it you will find it here:

Thank you for being courageous.

Compliments abound for new contributing editor Alex Rose‘s short story Flood:

Shashidhar writes:

I lived through this beautiful story. His narration of the abstract workings of the human mind which rattles itself in to concrete realities is the most beautiful and enjoyable aspect that gripped me throughout.
“Everything that had once been ours lay above the lip of the chasm. We had names for everything up there….. That was what we did; we named things. We pointed in one direction and said north. We identified shapes. We looked at trees and said oak, maple, spruce.. But lexicon was void here at the end of the world, like handing poker chips to a bank teller. Light would have the last word; it always did”.

My ego is rattled, truth is exposed…I feel relieved,I feel happiness.

Thank you Alex, thank you so much:)

…and this from Lynn Portnoy:

Very much enjoyed the story of the long illicit hike.  I’m a hiker with the worlds’ worst sense of direction, so I squirmed through the “lost” sequence.

Thanks.  I’m looking forward to reading more.  I am a new reader of KtB.

Meanwhile, Don Ward misunderstands us, not realizing we kill all buddhas, and are pro harmony and logic, well, within reason:


“In God We Trust” was a latter-day motto adopted in 1956, at the height of the “Red Scare.”

A brief examination of the consequences where religion combined with state is more than obvious is in the Middle East. I urge you to not pursue or contribute to the mayhem that breeds from this marriage. To promote the agenda of any one religion alienates all others. As superstitions melt into the past and are catalogued within the annals of Ancient History please permit society to move forward into a more harmonious concept of reason and logic.

Thank You for Your Time

During the week that the Family scandals were erupting, this came in from Jim Greenberg:

Lord, do you like to hear yourself talk. Endlessly and pointlessly. How conveniently (for your endless rhetoric) you categorize and oversimplify. Do you really think this remotely interesting? Are you under thirty? I hope so.

Jeff (37) responded:

Dear Jim,

Perhaps so. But why do you listen? What’s interesting is that you felt you had to go out of your way to write me—or KtB, it’s unclear which—to say that you’re not interested. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just go someplace else?

And a wonderful continuation of the discussion between Jeff Sharlet and Gunther Dawn:


Thanks for responding, allowing me to respond back, and for some of the best writing on religion to be found anywhere due both to its scholarly depth and its entertaining style. (Not to mention the delightful Buffy references so crucial to post-modern argumentation.)

To your point about atheist proselytizers: I made an overly broad generalization in my original submission in an attempt to trigger a response. Public dialectic thrives on certainties even if they are affected. Reality, on the other hand, presents us with broad, ambiguous spectra of atheists and theists. Credible characterizations of the coherent aims of one or another group can prove elusive. A similar muddle obtains regarding claims made about science. If some U. of Sunnydale professor who self-identifies as a scientist calls for the manipulation of human, demon, and digital DNA for the production of an unstoppable monster, rabble-rousers will quickly accuse “science” itself of monstrous ethical lapses. But “science,” since it is at heart simply a way of classifying and repeatedly verifying information, doesn’t have an official spokesperson to defend it.

Christianity and Islam, just to mention two religions which together happen to represent the majority of the world’s population, make dramatic, frequent, official and unambiguous calls for, among many other things, conversion of the rest of the world to rather specific mindsets. These calls are made through every medium at their disposal: holy writings, holy leaders, armies of sometimes armed missionaries, and, perhaps most disturbingly, Archie comics.

Atheists have neither holy writ nor God-authorized representatives (no snarky comments about worshipping Christopher Hitchens please), and many atheists will tell you that they are too versed in the limits of empiricism to even claim with certainty that there is no god.  God-existence just appears to be an extremely unlikely hypothesis given current evidence. Such compromised assertions hardly merit the term ideology and rarely inspire serious attempts at conversion. Every aping of Mormonic door-knocking by atheists I’m aware of is in the spirit of arch satire. So yes, I admit that most atheists would love it if some sort of mass un-conversion (losing a faith being not the same thing as adopting one) occurred. But their lack of clamor fails spectacularly to resemble religious proselytizing, and their small numbers and comparative passivity don’t muster them as an army. 4-Fs all ‘round.

To your point about any serious belief perforce affecting society at large (and non-practitioners via splash damage), I once again invoke a spectrum. I hope you will admit that the weak, yet apparently sincerely brewed, theological tea served by deist neo-apologists like Barbara Bradley Hagerty, Stanley Fish, and Terry Eagleton have nothing save the word “god” in common with the kind of Texas school board-infiltrating, Saudi schoolgirl-roasting, Bamiyan sculpture-exploding antics of more aggravated Evangelicalism.  Atheists might find “Hagfisheagle” (apropos Eagleton’s puerile portmanteau “Ditchkens”) intellectually distasteful, but, as serious believers go, they make pretty quiet neighbors.

And vice versa.


Everyone, keep ’em coming. We love to hear from you!