In search of a not so angry God | Dec. 14, commentary
No preconditions on the divine
I wonder how readers would have responded if Eric Weiner's article had been titled, "In search of a square basketball." My guess is that readers would have concluded that Weiner's search is illogical and not likely to be fruitful. We all know that basketballs already exist. They have characteristics, none of which include corners or square edges.
Like a search for a square basketball, I find Weiner's search for God to be illogical and unlikely to be fruitful. If we assume that God exists, then we must assume that God has some characteristics. Because God has characteristics, then some things are true about God and some things are not true.
In spite of Weiner's search criteria, God might actually be angry. Or loving, just, holy, or omniscient. When we search for God, we must not put conditions on the kind of God we will allow ourselves to find. Otherwise, we are not searching for God at all but are creating an idol or myth that suits our frail version of what God might be. If God exists, then God exists independently of what we think of him.
Of course Weiner is discussing more than the character of God. He is also discussing how we Americans are talking about God. And he is right to point out that some practitioners of religion have gotten in the way of God. Instead of showing the way to God, they have blocked the way and encouraged the "Nones" to be agnostic. No doubt that some religions encourage selfishness, strife and animosity. God is bigger and better than those outcomes. And God's true nature can be known, without us deciding what he should look like.
Jody Tompson, Tampa
In search of a not so angry God | Dec. 14, commentary
Agnostic by another name
I've got an old name for Eric Weiner's conceit of coining "None" as his version of a new, positive, logical and inclusive religion: agnostic. What he's espousing is simply agnosticism with some additional window dressing. Not that there's anything wrong with that. He correctly tries to bridge the gap between unquestioned faith and atheism (which are opposite extremes on the pole of reason) and ends up suggesting a convenient, feel-good alternative. He could do far worse, though this alone is not worthy of note.
His article however was redeemed by the final few paragraphs, which actually tells the tale of why many reject God, seeing the concept of God as more and more a malevolent, judgmental force as opposed to being a source of omnipotent goodness. Though I have a feeling the faithful will come out in force against Weiner, letting us all know just how off target he was, you have to admit that a "not so angry God" is certainly appealing.
Clarence Darrow once said, "I cannot pretend to know what ignorant men are sure of." We would do well to remember that.
Steven Levy, Palm Harbor
A Pier review | Dec. 11
Keep the pyramid design
This article left me wondering why the city doesn't retain the highly recognized inverted pyramid symbol in the design of a new facility, capitalizing on visitor recognition of the shape. Friends and relatives look forward to visiting the pyramid in spite of the access and parking issues listed.
All the issues being addressed in the new designs can be addressed and solved with a new, energy-efficient, low-maintenance pyramid with improved approaches and pedestrian and vehicle access.
Edward Felton, Seminole
Gingrich's problem is character | Dec. 11, commentary
Character can be overcome
I tried to follow the logic that brought David Brooks to the conclusion that Newt Gingrich's flawed "temperament and character" disqualified him for the presidency. I looked for the rationale that correlated character with presidential performance but found none in the article, so I tried to think through recent history and came to the conclusion that the two traits seem not to track.
A general look at recent presidents — and how history has judged their character and success — finds no association between perceived character and the success of the administration:
• Jimmy Carter: character: tops; performance: failure
• John Kennedy: character: poor; performance: excellent
• Richard Nixon: character: bad; performance: good
• Bill Clinton: character: pitiful; performance: outstanding.
Maybe this is because the success of a president is due more to his ideas and his appointments than to whether or not he has statesmanlike character.
I would say Barack Obama will be judged as a good family man and straight shooter. But I forecast he and his administration will save Jimmy Carter from being judged by history as the worst president ever.
William N. Beasley, Largo
Thank you, U.S. taxpayers | Dec. 11, Robyn Blumner column
Waste, fraud take heavy toll
As a taxpayer, I was happy to find that my taxes helped Keira Scholz overcome very difficult circumstances in her life. But as she usually does, Robyn Blumner left out half of the story, since as a taxpayer I am not happy about the amount of taxpayer wealth the political class wastes every year. As estimated by reputable, nonpartisan experts, there is annual waste and fraud in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment, tax evasion and political earmarks amounting to about $550 billion, or $5,000 for every U.S. household.
Hopefully, before Blumner again unfairly demonizes tea party members, Republicans and other Americans like myself who are demanding a reduction in government spending, she will realize it is not because we want to deny compassionate help to needy Americans like Keira Scholz. It is because we are tired having our politicians and government waste $5,000 of our wealth every year.
It is the politicians whom Blumner should be demonizing, not those who make aid to people like Scholz possible and are just tired of the waste, fraud and inefficiency of Washington.
Bruno Korschek, Palm Harbor
Proud of our country
What a great column. As a Depression baby, how I wished my folks had such help. I worked from age 10 in all kinds of jobs until I enlisted in the Marines on my 17th birthday. We lived with my maternal grandparents, as did my mother's other siblings.
I am very proud of our country having some of the benefits of other industrial nations. I travel the world and see the differences. I pay my taxes with pride, considering that I am helping folks such as the lovely lady who benefitted from my taxes and is now happy to pay back.
Bob McEwen, Indian Shores