Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Is God a TV Zapper or a Pinball Player? Irreverent Pop-Theology as Seen by an Obsessive Agnostic

At the beginning I was a proper Calvinist. Before it got watered down in the 18th century, Calvinism was very often about predestination vs. free will. So when I started researching the subject, I went back as far as the English Puritans and moved forward to Jonathan Edwards, who was certainly the most reasonable and convincing of all the Puritan theologians.

That got me to thinking that if Edwards were alive today he might describe predestination as a fourth dimensional necessity. For God, time would simply be another dimension that SHe would perceive instantaneously as we perceive the other three dimensions, which means that God would perceive in an instant what we mere mortals perceive as eternity.

(I have been wondering which pronoun to use for God, and have considered He, She and It. I decided on SHe as being gender neutral while still being personal. I thought of adding It to the SHe, but that could lead to an inappropriate combination of letters.)

Back to the main stream in the person of that contemporary philosopher, Elvis Costello. My son the poet tells me that Costello once said that he thought of God as lying on a big circular bed surrounded by an infinite number of television screens. In Costello's vision, God holds a tele-command which enables Herm (objective case pronoun proposal) to intervene when things start going wrong.

Now, even though Edwards probably did not own a television set, let alone subscribe to cable, he would certainly have objected strongly to Costello's vision because it detracted from the idea of God's omnipotence. I would agree with Edwards. What kind of a god would it be who didn't get everything right in the first place and had to keep zapping to set things straight? Besides, I have cancelled my cable subscription and now watch TV only over the internet.

Further meditation led me to another theological insight, which I feel corresponds closely to American WASP religious thinking. Conceive of God as a pinball player using a very advanced, holy machine. Each time SHe pulls and releases the plunger it sets off a Big Bang in one universe or another. Obviously God would use that plunger with such finesse that the big ball would cross the table just as SHe had planned. Certain souls would be saved and others damned. But God might change Hers (possessive adjective proposal) mind and jog the table from time to time to modify the ball's trajectory. Doesn't that leave a little room for human exercise of free will, perhaps even for someone else to jog the table directly? In any case, that's what Edwards's followers decided, thereby leading to today's Christian compromise.

This idea is most appealing to us ex-pinball players. But our agnostic leanings make us doubt that this is more than an illusion. Nevertheless, I sit and wait, sometimes hoping God will invite me over to play. Sometimes I even think I'll walk over and put a quarter in the machine, or maybe just give it a little jog while hoping it doesn't light up TILT.

Copyright: Edgar Farrar Richardson

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Can You Believe My Bordeaux Wine Posts Get More Hits Than My Political Rants?

As usual, the so-called law of supply and demand explains everything. There's not enough information on the web about good, affordable Bordeaux wines, while there are too many political rants. I suppose it's the election season. Or maybe it's the Gresham's law of blogging: bad dope drives out good.


But I won't tease you any longer. I've come to you here on the web today to give you more good news about Bordeaux wines of the 2011 vintage just coming to market. In this recent post I told you why I thought they would be good, especially the Saint Emilions Today I offer you taster's proof positive. A few days ago, I found some Lussac Saint Emilion from Château La Croix de Chereau, vintage 2011 at €9 the bottle in my neighborhood supermarket. This wine is a real miracle at that price. It's just as round and full as the Graves I wrote about the other day, but it's also got enough tannin so that it can travel well and keep for a few years. Addionally, it has special nutty overtones that I've seldom tasted in other reds. I'm going to buy a few more bottles for special occasions.


The Lussac Saint Emilion is a small northern suburb of the main Saint Emillion district. It has less prestige, but a bit more merlot (65% rather than 60%), and commands a lower price. The nearby Fronsacs will probably be interesting, too, and I will let you know if I find some good bargains. All these wines are near neighbors, if not kissing cousins of the  Pomerols (70% to 80% merlot), which people who can afford them often rate the world's best reds.


I should warn you: I'm not an expert, just an ordinary wino wine-lover like you.

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