Teaching "Virtue" to Kids

I got the best laugh of the week listening to this NPR program this morning, called “Class Teaches Virtues to Children of Many Faiths.”

Essentially this Jewish lady is teaching a classroom of children from 14 months to 6 years old to respect other religions and to exhibit virtues — all good, right? At one point in the story, she asks her at-home class, “Did anyone exhibit contentment this week?” To which a little boy replies, “Not me!” Which was hilarious enough.

But the best part isn’t in the article. It’s when the NPR reporter asks another little boy what his favorite virtue is.

He confidently replies, “My favorite virtue is T.V.”


Even the Beeb Gets the Pain In the Diodes Down My Left Side All Wrong

I loved seeing an article on the Beeb devoted to the 30th Anniversary of the debut of Douglas Adams’ radio show.

I was kind of appalled, though, to see that the writer managed to say this bit of nonsense about the number 42:

“Ever since, speculation has been rife as to what Adams meant. There is the “paperback line theory” – 42 apparently being the average number of lines on the page of a paperback book. Was Adams paying homage to the medium of his success?”

Um, hello? The radio series came before the books, which were an adaptation of the radio series — you know, that thing whose anniversary we’re celebrating, as stated at the beginning of the article? 42 couldn’t possibly have alluded to the success of the paperback book, which came long after the radio series had been written, aired and seen success. Unless, of course, Adams wrote it in the Starship Heart of Gold. Then maybe in one of those moments when everything was happening at once and his head was sprouting a penguin beak he noticed the books and made this astounding observation.

You’ll see in the comments that there’s a guy named Peter Stilliard who gets it right:

“Douglas Adams was asked many times during his career why he chose the number 42. Many theories were proposed but he rejected them all. On 3 November 1993 he gave an answer on alt.fan.douglas-adams: ‘The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base thirteen, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk, stared into the garden and thought ’42 will do’. I typed it out. End of story.’ “

If only the Beeb had done such good research on Adams before writing about him. I’m sure that Adams would have loved that, despite the journalistic mangling, his true fans have not forgotten him.

Behold! The Flying Spaghetti Monster!

I did my Beeb bit.

To me, that felt like the most uneven of the three shows I’ve done. Things felt rather heavily tilted towards the theists weeping that atheists just talk too loudly these days.

The summary of my response to that was, “So what? Atheists have had to listen to the voice of theists turned up to ’11’ for centuries. Just because some atheists are speaking up loudly back, we’re all gonna cry now?”

Gobs of dumb. It was hard not to laugh at them. Actually, I did laugh at them. I fell on the bed, weeping with giggles when the professor of the divinity college said those atheists throw away all “the facts.” Then Kelly from the Rational Responders replied to Mr. Facts, “What facts are you talking about? Where are YOU getting your facts?” That was the best!

The most problematic moment was when Mr. Facts said his son had proof of God because a voice told him not to go into work at the Twin Towers that morning of the 9/11 attack. Okay, so what does that say about his son’s God who cherry picked certain people to die a horrible death that day? Proclaiming on international radio your son’s incredibly cruel, irrational God is somehow nicer than someone writing a book about the lack of evidence of any God whatsoever? I’m confused. Why would I be comforted by that anecdote? I’m not an atheist — more of a rational mystic — and I’m utterly horrified by this.

At one point, I took on something said by Terry Waite, ex-envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Ooo!

I’ll post a link if the Rational Responders recorded it. I’m hoping that they did, given that Sapient recorded the Blasphemy Challenge show I did on WHYS back in January.

I need a rub down and people saying, “You did good that round, Rocky!”

Another Night of Ungodliness on the BBC

I’ll be on the BBC’s World Have Your Say program tonight defending some of my favorite people: atheists.

The show is in response to an article in The Guardian, “New Atheists loathe religion far too much to plausibly challenge it,” by Madeleine Bunting. The quick summary of the article is that because the latest books on atheism take religion to the cleaners a bit too soundly, we ought to therefore ignore the arguments.

Should be an interesting evening, to say the least!