A friend of mine has written a book that, within the year, will be published by Oxford Press. Awesome! I mean Oxford is like the…Oxford of universities, and to be published by them is the dream of any academic (they turned down my manuscript, “Why building your own Medieval Castle is Way Cool,” creative differences I guess ). I’ve also been privileged to read some of the manuscript and take classes on the subject matter as well as create a website dedicated to “spreading the word” to the online masses.
The work is about direction for our culture and about the history of our culture. It is about hope for a world that often lives in fear of chaos, sometimes real, often imagined. It is about our identity in western society and how our dream of a democratic, pluralistic, everyone get along nicely, society lies not in some program or political ideology, but in an understanding of humanism and its religious roots. How we got to where we are and what went wrong to derail our hopes and dreams of a society that accepts all cultures and creeds not because it has to, but because every person is a human being and valuable for that fact alone.
Somewhere along the line a fog descended on our highway of life and we kept driving at full speed. A few years ago there was a horrible accident in Ontario on the 401. If you’ve ever driven that highway then you’ve experienced something close to hyperdrive like that on the Millenium Falcon. (You’ve never heard of the Millenium Falcon? It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.) The last time I drove the 401 I hit a family of ducks who decided to walk across one of the busiest highways in Canada. It wasn’t pretty. Anyway, the accident years ago started with a couple of cars that collided. A fire started and people tried to scramble to safety. However, the fog was thick as it often is along this rode and cars kept coming, at full speed, smashing into the pile-up. The mass of twisted metal kept growing and the fire kept raging. Soon a massive firestorm had started consuming tires, glass, metal, and people. It was a horrible tragedy and one that could have been reduced in scope had people slowed down and been more aware of what was ahead of them and how fast they were going.
I feel like we are driving into the fog. We drift along with no idea of where we are headed to until we smash into something and are forced to take a step away from the vehicle and ask ourselves, who are we? what are we doing? why are we even driving? why do I have such a crappy car?
I hope my friend’s book makes on more shelves than just a few academics who will have their assistants read it, get turned off by the “religious” parts, write a summary, and move on. The current polemic between the “religious and the secular” does more damage to the public good than we realize. Christopher Hitchens vs whomever, or another Richard Dawkins rant don’t get us anywhere because these “debates” are little more than two sides shouting at each other (see thebroodingtheologian.com for a little more). The world needs more people willing to hang out and get to know other people just because they are people and not because they’re part of some clique or group or religion or culture.
If you want to take a closer look at the Christian Humanism project by Jens Zimmermann, you can read about it here at The Humanist Lens blog.