recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : agnosticism   5

More punk, less hell! - News Ausland: Europa - tagesanzeiger.ch
"Nothing in Gnarr’s youth pointed to good fortune or success. He was the late progeny of a bitter couple: His father was a policeman and Stalinist: «Pravda» came in the mail and the current head of state and party of the Soviet Union hung on the wall, albeit the wall of the broom closet. Gnarr’s mother was a conservative.

As a communist, his father never received a promotion. His endless monologues at the dinner table awakened in his son a deep aversion to politics. Gnarr also had other problems. At school, he struggled from the start and doctors declared him mentally retarded. He was short, skinny and had ADHD and migraines. He learned to write only when he was 14 and he was 16 before he could recite the months correctly. By that age, he had already made two suicide attempts and a tour of homes for troubled youths behind him.

Everyone, including himself, thought he was stupid. So when he was 13, he made three decisions: he became a punk, he became the class clown («better a clown than a dummy») and he gave up on learning at school. From then on, he read privately. And read he did, extensively: on anarchism, Bruce Lee, Tao Te Ching, Monty Python and surrealism.

Gnarr became a psychiatric nurse, taxi driver, bassist in the punk band Runny Nose, a father at 20 and at some point realized that he hated music, but liked to talk to the crowd between the songs. The impromptu speeches got longer and longer. Eventually, the side gig became his profession. Gnarr started a career as a comedian – telephone gags on the radio, stand-up, columns, sketches, TV shows.

Being a comedian was not a normal profession in Iceland. In the early days, kids at school asked his sons if he was mentally disturbed. As people became accustomed, he became famous. («Although being famous in Iceland, with 300,000 inhabitants, means very little,» as he says. «You buy a bottle of milk and presto, you’re famous».) Later, during the campaign, his competitors reminded people of his gags: such as the parody in which Gnarr portrays Hitler imagining the schmaltzy CD ‹No Regrets›. Or his success as a bald-headed, egotistical, yet touchingly awkward Stalinist on a TV show. The characters, they implied, illuminate the man.

And Gnarr shone in the roles. Professionally, he manifested a certain preference for bold hairdos and ridiculous clothes, such as a one-piece bathing suit. His conversion to Catholicism was still fresh in people’s memory as well. For months he had tried the patience of Reykjavik’s newspaper readers with enthusiastic columns praising the Pope and the church hierarchy before ultimately deciding to remain an agnostic.

On the other hand, he was a father of five, the author of a book, a comedian and an established TV star; a calm man with a wild smile – still a bit chaotic, but with a smart wife. And he had a long road behind him."



"And then came the video [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxBW4mPzv6E ], perhaps the cheeriest in the history of politics. A reworded version of Tina Turner’s ‹Simply the Best› sung by the candidates, the song included a brief, rousing speech by Gnarr that began with the words: «Fellow citizens, it is time to look into your hearts and decide. Do you want a bright future with the Best Party? Or a Reykjavik in ruins?»

The video was «not a major deal», as Proppe said later. «We’re pros when it comes to music videos.» And yet it’s the most delightful political video ever made: watching it will put you in a good mood for two hours. It excited people and attracted them. Two weeks before the election, the Best Party was polling at 38%.

That was the moment when Gnarr thought of quitting. He was exhausted and not himself. The politicians irritated him: before and after the debates, they made small talk, but in between they attacked him. He realized that although he had no idea about the issues, he had begun to act as if he did. It scared him.

After days of depression, he was lying in the bathtub when two ideas came to him. The first: «The Best Party was an idea. It had grown up, so I had to follow it. Even against my own interests. It was bigger than me. I had become a player in my own play. My freedom was gone. I was trapped. But also curious.» The second thought that persuaded him was a joke.

The final debate took place the next day. Gnarr went to the lectern and said: «We at the Best Party have always said that we would keep going as long as we were having fun. Everything has now become very serious. I hereby withdraw my candidacy for the office of mayor and the Best Party from the elections». A protracted hush fell over the room. The audience sat in silence, the other politicians looked at each other. And then Gnarr said: «Joooooke!»"



"One of the projects of the Best Party was to change the political culture. What was lacking was common decency. Gnarr says: «In the beginning I thought that the people who yelled at me in parliament were actually angry, but they’re not. As soon as the cameras are off, they want to have a beer with you». Proppe: «There are two languages: one for the public and one for behind the scenes. You can’t do that in any other workplace.» Örn: «Let me put it this way, I didn’t find any friends among the politicians. With friends, I talk about hobbies. But the politicians’ hobby is politics».

«It’s a bit disingenuous,» comments journalist Karl Blöndal, second-in-command at the conservative paper Morgunblaðið. «They see politics as theater, but then they are shocked by the theater in politics.»

In the political battles, the Best Party employed a concept from the Tao Te Ching – ‹wu wei›: never fight back, but let the attack miss its mark. And express your respect for your opponent."



"An assessment of four years of anarchist rule yields a rather surprising conclusion: the punks put the city’s financial house in order. They can also look back on some very successful speeches, a few dozen kilometers of bike paths, a zoning plan, a new school organization (that no one complains about any more) and a relaxed, booming city – tourism is growing by 20% a year (and some say that is the new bubble). In speeches, president Grímsson no longer praises Icelanders’ killer instinct, but their creativity. Real estate prices are again on the rise and the Range Rovers are back too. In polls last October, the Best Party hit its high-water mark of 38%. Shortly thereafter, Gnarr announced he would retire and dissolve the Best Party. His reason: «I’m a comedian, not a politician.» He added: «I was a cab driver for four years, a really good one even, and I quit doing that as well.»

«My question was always: ‹How do we fuck the system?›» says Örn. «And the answer was, we show that non-politicians can do the job as well. But quitting with a certain election victory within reach, that’s truly fucking the system!»

Others will keep going: they have founded the Bright Future party. Proppe has since become a member of the national parliament and Björn Blöndal, the prince of darkness, now moves in political circles like a fish in water. «It’s a lot of fun when you’ve learned how you can make a difference and you slowly get good at it. Politics is a craft.» Blöndal led the ticket for the Bright Future party in the Reykjavik elections. He and Dagur Eggertson vied to succeed Gnarr. For long stretches the polls were inconclusive, but in the end the Social Democrats won handily. Without Gnarr at the helm, Bright Future halved its result to take 15%. Eggertson now heads a four-party coalition that also includes the Pirates and the Left-Greens."

[alt link: http://mobile2.tagesanzeiger.ch/articles/10069405 ]
jóngnarr  iceland  2014  punk  politics  anarchism  democracy  ephemeral  pop-ups  taoteching  wewei  bestparty  agnosticism  dropouts  unschooling  deschooling  politicians  surrealism  comedy  catholicism  belief  religion  hierarchy  hierarchies  autodidacts  reading  self-education  reykjavík  ephemerality 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Education Rethink @edrethink: Lost and Found
"I lost my faith.

Lost is the right word. I know that other people speak of the process as if they tossed it aside. However, that's not how it happened to me. My faith sort-of evaporated for me. It was so slow I didn't see it happening. The moments were tiny and never felt significant at the time.

I think it started when I was holding a newborn and loving the child so much that I couldn't fathom sending anyone I love to a place like Hell. I just couldn't see a loving God doing this. Then there was the longterm effects of studying science and realizing that I couldn't justify the seven day literalist creation. It didn't help when I met really good atheists whose lives were not the mess that I was told they would be. Add to this all my gay friends who, I was sure, were created that way and I was starting to rethink everything I was taught.

It was more than that, though. I remember praying to a God who would never answer back and knowing that trying to "look" for an answer felt about as silly as reading tea leaves or jumping across the carcass of a goat. At least the Magic 8 Ball answered backI continued to pray and to read my Bible and to go through the motions, but it felt . . . gone. That assurance that I had felt before, that sense that I had the answers, was gone. Totally gone.

I hit a point where I couldn't justify it anymore. I wasn't an atheist. I wasn't anti-Christian. The truth is that I was agnostic. I didn't have the answers anymore. More than anything else, I missed my faith. I missed believing that God was present. I missed having an answer instead of waiting in agnosticism, unsure about what's real or true.

I'm not sure how long this period lasted. I just knew that it evaporated. I wasn't depressed about it. I wasn't hopeless. Unlike all the warnings about "backsliders" I didn't go on a crazy sin binge. The truth is that it felt lighter. I felt, for the first time ever, like I had the freedom to go explore.

Then it happened. There were little moments that caused me to reconsider my agnosticism. It started with realizing that, to my core, I believe that there is a spark of the divine in people and that they are inherently valuable and that they are also totally broken. I couldn't shed what I believed about humanity. It was the only story that still made sense.

Then there were all the times when I read fiction with the hopes of escaping what I believed only to be drawn toward the stories of redemption and the battle between good and evil. It hit me that the ultimate archetype that I was drawn toward was the Jesus story. I'm sure he didn't intend it this way, but The Ocean at the End of the Lane drew me back toward my belief that God is a loving parent.

I remember re-reading the Bible with open eyes and realizing that there were things that it wasn't quite so clear about (including Hell). I kept finding myself being drawn to those stories, even when I wasn't sure how historically accurate it was.

Somewhere in the midst of it, I remember reading about the Pope and being drawn toward him and thinking, "If you like the current Pope, you'd probably be crazy about Jesus." I found myself quoting scripture in moments of crisis and realizing that it wasn't a crutch so much as a part of me that I couldn't shed. It was true. I was a new creation and the old was gone and I had changed and even though I didn't have all the answers, I was still crazy about Jesus.

So, I came back. To what, exactly, I wasn't sure. I just knew that the Jesus story was the greatest story ever told and that even if it felt crazy, I wanted it to be true. Maybe that's what hope meant. Maybe it wasn't about being absolutely sure that your belief is true, but rather holding onto the story, continuing to be drawn to it even when it sounds too good to be true.

Looking back on it, I don't think I lost my faith. I think I grew out of it. I don't think it evaporated on me, so much as it slipped away from me. My conservative evangelical background became the skin that I stepped out of like a snake. I realize now that I never left the faith. It's just that it evolved on me when I wasn't paying attention.

I know that some would say that I'm not a "real" Christian anymore (what with my doubt about Hell and my belief in universal grace). However, grace is the only thing that makes sense. Redemption is the only story that works. I may not be a "real" Christian anymore, but I don't care. I'm banking on the hope that God is crazy about us and wants to spend forever with us. If that makes me a heretic, I'm okay with that."
johnspencer  religion  faith  belief  evolution  2014  christianity  christians  freedom  jesus  atheism  agnosticism 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The Technium: Possibilians vs Agnostics
"Eagleman: "Our ignorance of the cosmos is too vast to commit to atheism, and yet we know too much to commit to a particular religion. A third position, agnosticism, is often an uninteresting stance in which a person simply questions whether his traditional religious story is true or not true. But with Possibilianism I'm hoping to define a new position -- one that emphasizes the exploration of new, unconsidered possibilities. Possibilianism is comfortable holding multiple ideas in mind; it is not interested in committing to any particular story."

…Agnostics end w/ lack of an answer. Possibilians begin w/ lack of an answer. Agnostics say, we can't decide between this & that. Possibilians say, there are other choices… Agnostics say, I Don't Know, it's impossible to answer that question. Possibilians say, I Don't Know, there must be better questions. Both start in humility, but agnosticism is bounded by our great ignorance, while possibilism is unbounded by our limited knowledge."
davideagleman  kevinkelly  uncertainty  possibility  possibilianism  religion  certainty  science  belief  agnosticism  atheism  doubt  curiosity  humility  skepticism  storytelling  criticalthinking  philosophy  ambiguity  hubble  ultradeepfield  ralphwaldoemerson  literature  myths  greekmyths  greeks  romans  creationstories  stories 
february 2011 by robertogreco
David Eagleman on Possibilianism on Vimeo
"Neuroscientist and best-selling author David Eagleman introduces the concept of Possibilianism, a new philosophy that simultaneously embraces a scientific toolbox while exploring new, unconsidered uncertainties about the world around us."
davideagleman  religion  atheism  agnosticism  possibilianism  philosophy  science  ambiguity  uncertainty  certainty  belief  curiosity  hubble  ultradeepfield  ralphwaldoemerson  literature  myths  greekmyths  greeks  romans  creationstories  storytelling  stories  possibility  doubt  humility  skepticism  criticalthinking 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Stray Questions for: David Eagleman - NYTimes.com
"with Possibilianism I’m hoping to define a new position—one that emphasizes the exploration of new, unconsidered possibilities. Possibilianism is comfortable holding multiple ideas in mind; it is not interested in committing to any particular story."

"I’m always recommending my literary heroes: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, Toni Morrison, William Faulkner. At the moment, I’m reading David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas” and Olaf Stapledon’s “First and Last Men.” In the nonfiction realm I read a lot of neuroscience and physics, but in this past week I’ve been revisiting Carl Sagan, an early inspiration for my Possibilianism."
philosophy  davideagleman  possibilianism  tonimorrison  gabrielgarcíamárquez  italocalvino  borges  davidmitchell  agnosticism  athieism  belief  uncertainty  religion  atheism  science  ambiguity  certainty  curiosity  hubble  ultradeepfield  williamfaulkner 
february 2011 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read