Wessel's blog

Rapid Fire: Responding to Antitheist Memes

Man at Speaker's Corner in London's Hyde Park (edited)
Read time: 13 minutes

I have written before about being thoughtful when reading and responding to satire. I also showed that a picture with a silly caption can defame, perpetuate a falsehood, and oversimplify a complex issue, such as the cause of the Dark Ages.

While it is easy to say that one should be thoughtful about such things, knowing how to analyse them is a skill which needs to be developed. I am still in the process of personally developing in this manner. One step is to identify a category within which the satire falls. Often objections or criticisms can fall into broad categories, and once a specific objection can be linked to such a broad category, it is easier to respond to the criticism with insight.

This article will present three examples of responding to antitheist “memes”. [node:read-more:link]

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More Than a Brick in the Wall: On Traditional Schooling and Parenting Children

School learner
Read time: 15 minutes

“I'm glad I learned about parallelograms in high school math instead of how to do my taxes. It comes in so handy during parallelogram season.”

This is one of many variations of a clever jab at the education system and how it does not equip children with the necessary life skills needed after school. I have lamented this myself, thinking that it is unfair to expect a person (who has just been recognised as an adult) to live in a country with complex laws without preparing them to do so. For example, when we install software, then when we agree to a software EULA, we are engaging with a complex legal document—possibly across legal jurisdictions—which is beyond the comprehension of many ordinary people1. It seems like discontent towards the current schooling system is increasing. Yet I have been finding myself now increasingly defending the traditional schooling subjects. In this article, I want to explore and explain these thoughts, and how they relate to the Christian life. [node:read-more:link]

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An Utterly Unsatisfying Answer to the Problem of Evil

Sad woman
Read time: 12 minutes

The problem of evil is perhaps the most pernicious argument against theism. Specifically, the problem of natural evil1. The natural problem of evil asks: why do people (some being good, moral and pious) suffer because of natural disasters, diseases, birth defects, and/or other terrible things. In other words, why do people suffer if no human caused it?

In this article I am going to provide a possible answer to the problem of evil (in general, but as can be applied to both logical and natural evil). [node:read-more:link]

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For King and Country: Christians and Politics

Ballot box
Read time: 8 minutes

South Africans will soon be heading to the polls again for a national election. With a great deal of uncertainty about the future and the reliability of political parties, perhaps now more than ever before voters are critically thinking about how to exercise their vote.

When an established Christian political party published a comparison of their values compared to those of other competing political parties, they were met with a large degree of scorn and derision. Some complained about the outmoded values which they uphold; others feared that the party wants to institute a theocracy; and others stated that religion should be kept out of politics.

This article will discuss the role (if any) of religion in politics. [node:read-more:link]

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Be True to Yourself

Woman wearing a mask
Read time: 10 minutes

Society today values it for one to be “true to yourself”, meaning to express your beliefs and desires without being repressed or directed by others. At the same time, many people have commented on how the world seems more divided today than ever before. People have certainly been divided in deep ways before (and not too long ago either): one nation versus another; one race of people against another; communists versus capitalists. But today—seemingly more than ever before—people truly are polarised. On the left-right or liberal-conservative spectra, more people find themselves at extreme opposites, and those in the middle are derided for not holding to an extreme.

People find themselves at these extremes because they perceive a real danger and threat in the opposing viewpoint, and are either unwilling or unable to see or reason about a particular point from another perspective. [node:read-more:link]

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A Lesson From Ozymandias: On Christians and Culture

Statue of Egyptian Pharaoh
Read time: 10 minutes

The poem "Ozymandias" is about the remains of a statue of the pharaoh "Ozymandias" found in the desert. The inscription on the statue boasts of the pharoah's great achievements and his splendour. The irony is that this statue—which embodies his grandeur—is dug up from the desert sand, which had swallowed the memory of this great pharaoh as well as his legacy long ago. The lesson of this poem is that we should not boast or think too highly of our achievements, as they likely will not withstand the persistent wearing away by the forces of time and nature. [node:read-more:link]

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Christians Dishonour McJesus

McJesus at the Haifa Museum of Art
Read time: 4 minutes

This has been a dark week for Christians.

A controversial art exhibition at the Haifa Museum of Art in Israel has caused quite a stir. One piece on exhibit is a statue of Jesus on a cross painted in such a way that it looks like Ronald McDonald.

The reactions of Christians have been shameful and lamentable. [node:read-more:link]

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The Origins of Christianity Tour: Part 4

Dr John Dickson lecturing on the Southern Steps in Jerusalem
Read time: 24 minutes

The bus comes to a stop and the doors open. Slowly, the passengers disembark. Some are sleepy, some are groggy from not having had enough coffee that morning, some are simply tired. We had been touring Israel for a week now, and programme has been jam packed, with little time for rest. But suddenly everyone perks up and is astonished at the sight before them: Jerusalem bathed in the golden light of sunrise. [node:read-more:link]

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The Origins of Christianity Tour: Part 3

Gamla
Read time: 22 minutes

Our travel in Israel took place in October; just past the peak of summer, so that we would be spared the highest of the temperatures (and it still got plenty hot). Israel, like the Cape Town area, gets its rain in winter, as so we were right at the very end of the dry season. And, like Cape Town, Israel is a water scarce region. But, driving north, the landscape changed. We were not in the desert of the area around Masada, Qumran and the Dead Sea; neither did our surroundings look like the dry, but habitable, Jerusalem. No; despite not having tasted rain in months, what we saw outside the windows of our bus were green trees and lush shrubbery. It was not a succulent jungle, to be sure, but here was life and abundance. We were in what the gospels refer to as the land of Galilee. [node:read-more:link]

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The Origins of Christianity Tour: Part 2

Dr John Dickson at Wadi Qelt
Read time: 22 minutes

In this post, I begin my summary of the Origins of Christianity tour. It will cover my first three days in Israel and two days of the tour, which was focussed on Jerusalem and the area of ancient Judah. [node:read-more:link]

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The Origins of Christianity Tour: Part 1

Jerusalem at sunrise
Read time: 12 minutes

In October I was privileged to join the Origins of Christianity tour to Israel, led by Dr. John Dickson. This was something which I had been looking forward to and planned for a long time, and it really was an awesome experience! I have already done one presentation of the tour for TGIF Stellenbosch; here I want to document my experiences so that I can share it with more people.

This article will be a general discussion about the tour and my experience of it; after it there will be three more articles which recount the tour on a day-by-day basis. [node:read-more:link]

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