Thursday, July 03, 2008

My Bro

My brother is willing to make a fool of himself for the good of children. This makes him a hero to me.

I have posted a few things on this site, and plenty elsewhere, that sits me squarely in the agnostic-with-Christian-culture camp. I am not apologizing, nor proselytizing. It is the truth, and I'm not able, by an act of will, to either become a dyed-in-the-wool uber-atheist or a washed-in-the-blood believer. I am what I am. I find Richard Dawkins and the other militant atheists noisome and surprisingly unmoved by what seems to me to be deep human psychology. At the same time, I think a lot of conservative/fundamentalist Christians are scared shitless of science, and support abominations like the Creation Museum and Intelligent Design, much to the weakening of their claim of any intellectual honesty.

My brother is a minister, focusing on elementary school age children, at a fairly large non-denominational Christian church. I doubt we would see eye-to-eye on matters like doctrine or faith. But despite my misgivings about the ontological foundations of religion, as a practical matter, I can appreciate when things do good, rather than evil. And his work falls into decidedly into the realm of good.

He brings the love of God to little kids. I say this without irony; while I might doubt the soundness of the foundational premises of the statement, the fact is that the schema is deeply part of our culture and psychology, and is capable of helping children grow up to be decent and good human beings.

The immediate counter is that he is filling their minds with nonsense for which no evidence exists. But I would disagree, no matter how thoroughly convinced I might become that the empirical basis of Christianity is lacking. Because I know that my brother is steady, and kind, and reasonable, slow to judge, and quick to reach out in friendship, a voice of wisdom at a time children very much need to hear one. Most children will receive some sort of religious training. At my brother's hands, their example is one of hard work, and sacrifice, goodness, and temperance. Not only do I think he is providing a good example, that I hope his young charges will grow up to follow, but I also see him as inoculating them against extreme strains of Christianity later.

I have argued before that the desire to eradicate religion is foolish and quixotic and doomed to utter failure. Since religion is going to exist, I hope for, and support people like "Mr. Dan" (as the children call him) in what he is doing, whether I understand or believe in all of it or not.


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