The Coen Brothers, Hitchens, and the Pope

There is a good movie review here that is interesting to me, not because of the movie per-se, its main character, the story, or the cinematic techniques involved, but in the reviewer’s nod to postmodernism and how her comments dovetail with many of the themes on this blog.
“I’m no classics scholar, but as a rule of thumb, I think about myths, legends, fables, and folktales as the stories a group of people tells each other about themselves in order to understand who they are. Scholars argue over whether and to what degree these stories originate in allegories or actual events, but as someone recently said to me, they are in a sense “more true” than the facts: they shape our imaginations about our identities as individuals, families, and communities. A creation story, for instance, tells a society where it came from, where it’s headed, and what it can expect to encounter along the way. And so even if the events didn’t “happen” exactly the way the story has it, it’s still very true.”

 “That’s a tricky thing for us moderns, who tend to define “true” things as “events that actually happened in our universe in space and time.” But another kind of “truth,” driven by narratives we tell one another and take in together, can also shape reality in powerful ways. Consider how American stories about cowboys have shaped the way Americans think about themselves on the world stage: self-sufficient independent individuals wearing white hats and riding forth to serve justice.”

The modern: Facts are true and objective.  Values are meaningful but subjective.  It’s either-or.
The postmodern: There is no fact/value dichotomy or distinction.  Depending upon the context, depending upon the question, both can be true and meaningful.  It’s both-and.

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Words of wisdom (and another postmodern view) herefrom another voice of reason opposing that still echoing voice of irrationality, God rest his soul.
“Religion (either secular or theological) does not poison all of society and science should not be feared, but rather embraced. Both can bring humanity to new heights of empathy, imagination and progress. To quote the greatest American reformer, ‘Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.’”
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Good advice here from an atheist.
“Atheists like to talk about building a better world, one that is absent of religiosity in the public square, but where is the atheist movement, as defined by the some 2,000 atheist groups and organizations in the U.S., when it comes to dealing with our third-world levels of poverty? Not only is the atheist movement absent on this issue, it is spending thousands of dollars on billboards that make atheists look like assholes, at the same time Catholicism is looking hip again. The Pope has changed the perception of the Church in the minds of millions while the atheist movement has been sucked into the Right’s fictitious ‘war on christmas.’”

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