The Language of God review

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for BeliefThe Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis S. Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really loved this book. Collins helped me wrestle with the very real possibility of “a third way” to be a spiritual being and yet also fully endorsing of material science.

The false dichotomies in humanity (science vs. religion, good vs. evil, Left vs. Right, etc.) are exhausting. They lead to burn-out and disenchantment. The Language of God reminded me that it’s possible to navigate two worlds in harmony.

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The king is dead, long live the king.

 

The tensest political handshake in modern times.
The tensest political handshake in modern times.

What I’m reading a lot on social media is a very determined effort to falsely equivocate either Obama or Hillary Clinton with Trump (whether their characters, their campaigns, or their future presidencies).  In my view, this is particularly disingenuous.  To put Obama’s presence and stature or Clinton’s experience and dignity up against Trump’s impulsiveness and braggadocio and call them basically the same thing just isn’t being honest with one’s self.

This, I think, is probably the most insidious choice that voters made because it assumes a “pick your poison” baseline, that both are bad.  Further, a vote for what is “lesser of two evils” excuses all the other bad traits about Trump.  It essentially doesn’t matter how bad Trump was, is, or will be: at least he’s not as evil as “that nasty woman.”

But the Hillary-evil narrative painted so well during the campaign got more and more thin as it wore on.  What evil are we really talking about?  That she and staffers made the tragic misstep of putting a private email server in use?  This was a decision that I’m sure Clinton will rue for a long time, but as the FBI has repeatedly cleared her of treasonous intent, it’s hardly evil.  That the Benghazi attacks were bungled?  Absolutely.  It was tragic and security lapses were made.  Mistakes happen, even at the highest level.  Is she evil in her mishandling?  I don’t think so.  She’s worked hard to establish stability in the area since and her tone has been proved to be one of calm in the face of calamity.

The Trump image we’ve all seen during the campaign itself (forget 10-15 years prior) has shown itself to be frightening.  What I can’t wrap my brain around is why so many Christians, children of the Reagan GOP, would turn a blind eye to his enabling of very bad behavior.  Here’s a man that can’t lose gracefully.  He sues the press when he doesn’t like how they cover him in the headlines.  He lashes out publicly at women and minorities.  He has no sense of decorum befitting of the office.

And yet still I hear how basically they’re all the same.  That one choice is just as bad as another.  That’s just not true, and you know it, no matter how badly you want that square peg to fit.

The long happy life of a coyote survivor

“Daddy, Ebenezer not sick anymore?”  “No sweetie, he isn’t sick anymore.”

peanuts! Ebenezer was more than just a pet cat.  He was a symbol of my developing adult life.  I got Ebenezer when I lived in Dallas.  My Aunt Debbie and Uncle Rick knew of a neighbor who had a new litter of kittens.  They knew just the animal lover that would make a good fit for one of them.  I was a sucker for the little orange tom’s spunk and loud caterwauling.

That first week was a trying one, as all young animals prove to be to their human caretakers.  One evening after work, he had managed to get himself completely wrapped up in small gauge solid-strand antenna wire.  As I was carefully cutting him free of the snare, unwrapping the wire from his throat and body, I knew then that I loved him.  I knew that he depended on me for his life and happiness.  And I was glad then that I had this little creature to care for.  It felt good to give joy, as well as shelter and sustenance.

In a sense, I feel Ebb was a good foreshadowing of my future family life.  He gave me good training for what it means to be a dad: he was my first dependent mouth to feed.

He was also my first pal.  He moved with me at least eight times (one of which was across multiple state lines!) between many apartments, townhouses, and houses.  He successfully integrated well into an already bustling animal family when I married Sarah.

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Ebb and Royal were buddies

Ebb & Cleo on the bed
Ebb meets Cleo
Ebb in the snow
Ebb loved the outdoors

I nearly lost Ebb shortly after he and I made the long trek to Colorado.  He was always fond of wandering outside, and I was a pushover for his pleading.  One such night, while I tinkered in my workshop, I let him have a lay of the land.  I heard a slow scuffle and came running out.

Ebb - the edge of the known universe
The near fateful night

I found him, caught firmly between two young coyotes.  One had his tale, the other his throat.  I had interrupted the fight before major blood was spilled and lucky Ebenezer held onto a couple of his remaining lives.  It was such a close call; he and I learned some lessons that night.

The origin of his name was simple.  I had always liked it from the Dickens story.  And when Ebb was just a kitten, it was hard to see how the name could possibly fit his personality.  But over the years, as he became more cranky and less mobile, he seemed to settle into his namesake.  Aunt Deb sometimes mistakenly called him “Nebuchadnezzar,” which is a greater name by syllables, but a lesser by Biblical standards.  Iris, you can imagine, had a very hard time with his name and early on became content with the shortened “Ebby.”  Later, she fancied his full stately name, and it had a sweet ring to it from her mouth.

As with so many things in my life now as a father, I can’t help but see the world through my kid’s eyes.  And this event was certainly no different.  As I came home from the vet, with an empty carrier under my arm, Iris greeted me at the door and immediately asked:

“Daddy, Ebenezer not sick anymore?”

It’s a funny thing to experience great sadness simultaneously with happiness. I smiled behind tears and said, “No sweetie, he isn’t sick anymore.” And because Iris doesn’t yet fully grasp the sorrow of loss, she was happy for me.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.