I recently listened to a fascinating conversation between the Catholic writer Arthur Brooks and the atheist Sam Harris about the role of spirituality and religion in a healthy life. You will need to get a subscription to either the Waking Up app or to Harris’s private feed to listen to the section in question. I leave your support of Harris up to your own discretion.
For the time being, let’s set aside the political and ideological differences I have with both these men. I’d like to focus on a fascinating difference between Brooks and Harris.
In this episode of Sacred Tension, I am joined by the hosts of Decoding the Gurus to take a critical look at the gurus of the internet age, including Jordan Peterson, the Weinstein Brothers, and Sam Harris. We do an in-depth run-through of the Gurometer and explore tools to critically analyze public intellectuals.
I’ve been making noise on social media lately about how I deliberately read problematic books. By problematic, I mean that they are deemed, justly or unjustly, toxic or bad by people I usually agree with. I’ve noticed some palpable discomfort when I bring up the topic, so I thought I would take some time to explore why I think reading problematic literature is helpful.
In their book The Coddling of the American Mind, Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff spelled out three great untruths that they believe are infesting our culture. While I’m ambivalent about the book, these three great untruths have stayed with me. They are:
The Untruth of Fragility: What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker.
The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning: always trust your feelings.
The Untruth of Us Vs. Them: Life is a battle between good people and evil people.
I consider myself a mystic, and yet I am an atheist. I don’t believe in God, gods, the afterlife, or the supernatural. How is this not a contradiction in terms? Isn’t supernaturalism and woo central to the experience of mysticism?
Several days ago, I was meditating with Sam Harris’s Waking Up app. During the meditation Harris instructed me, quite simply, to find the “I” who is doing the meditating and to look for the self within consciousness. I did as instructed and, just like that, my sense of self was obliterated. As simply as a candle being blown out, my feeling of being a self within my head was extinguished, and all that remained was the vast sky of consciousness.
In this episode of Sacred Tension I sit down with author and logic professor Ben Burgis to discuss his latest book, Give Them an Argument, and what figures on the right like Peterson, Harris, and Shapiro get wrong.
Last week in my Sunday Curiosities series, I posted a fiery video in which Steve Shives explains why he thinks Sam Harris is a douchebag. Of all the interesting things I posted in that article, I was dismayed to see my item on Harris get the most attention. People on social media were aggrieved that I would post such an “unfair” portrayal of Harris.