Monday, April 21, 2014

An Uneventful Easter

Well, this is it: The last day of Spring Break, or Easter Monday, as it's known here in the U.K. I suppose I should be sleeping in, but I've never been much of a sleeping-in person. Even Olga is still in bed, and she's usually up with the sun.

Easter was uneventful, as one would expect in a non-deity-worshipping household. In fact I wouldn't have even known it was Easter had I relied on first-hand experience -- I saw no sign of Easter observance in our neighborhood. The churches were not outwardly decorated in any particular way. They appeared, to me, as moribund as ever.

We watched a couple of episodes of "The Good Wife" (which we're just starting) and then "Back to the Future," which I haven't seen since I was about 18. Dave made lamb for dinner, and I suppressed my ethical conundrums about eating a poor defenseless lamb long enough to eat -- and it did taste pretty good, although lamb will never be my favorite meat.

Ironically, given that it was Easter, I finished Sam Harris's book "The End of Faith," a strongly worded argument against all organized religion. Harris sees religion as a force dragging us ever-backward, away from reason and scientific and social advancement, toward armed conflict and tribalism. And he's not just talking about fundamentalists -- he's talking about all religion, and in fact sees moderates as complicit in the problem by creating circumstances that tolerate the extremist fringes. I think he's essentially correct, though I must admit I got lost in some of his deeper philosophical discussions about ethics. (Maybe I was too worried about that lamb!)

(Photo: An alley in Shoreditch on Saturday.)


  1. I tend to agree about religion. I don't see any positive force going on. I like myths and stories but when you start to believe them as true and factual then you've missed the whole point and it becomes destructive. religious holidays are just excuses for me not to work and I'm already behind from my injured wrist.

  2. I think I would like to read that book.
    I'm with you on lamb.

  3. I think I'm all caught up on your blog now. The pics from the Seychelles are fabulous. The fruit bat!

    And Olga - she is so photogenic whether she's napping in front of the fire or among the pink blossoms.

    As for lamb - well - the food chain is a bitch.

    See you soon!

  4. Are you still a Zen Buddhist? Do you consider Zen Buddhism a religion? Just curious. I do love the Buddhist philosophy.

  5. Angella, I knew someone would ask about that! I haven't been practicing much lately, but I do still believe in the Buddhist approach to life. (I keep meaning to practice more!) I think of it less as a religion (in that there is no deity and no "faith," per se) and more a philosophy, a practice. Interestingly, Harris had very little to say about Buddhism in his book -- he was more focused on religious traditions that espouse a particular certitude about God and an afterlife, often to such a degree that they brand others heretics.

    1. The book sounds interesting. I am suspicious of religious zealots of every stripe. I'm actually fine with religion being your opiate if that's your thing but I seriously object to the insistence that it must therefore be my opiate, too, and all the conflict, armed and otherwise, that follows from that. I'm curious about Zen Buddhism though: does it hold with the idea of reincarnation and if so, is that an "afterlife"? I ask rather than research it myself because I admire so much your measured sensibility about these things.

  6. I had dinner at a friend's house on Easter and it was a bit delayed by the fact that the ham she took out of the freezer earlier in the week to thaw turned out to have a severe case of freezer burn so she had to thaw another ham in the microwave before cooking it. Needless to say, dinner was much later than planned. But, it was good when we got to it.

    "The Good Wife" is one of my favorite TV shows. I think you will enjoy it.

    I just saw your question about the lovebirds that live in my neighborhood. The thought is that they stem from some birds that escaped some 10 years ago but, now there is quite a large number of them living in places all over the valley. I've seen as many as 15 in my yard at one time. There are several groups of them in the Scottsdale area and I've seen a large group of them at the Desert Botanical Garden too. They seem to live in clusters all over the area. They really are fun to watch.

    That book sounds very interesting. I may have to get a copy.

  7. Sam Harris - clear voice of reason among the dull witted , thanks for the recommendation.