National Prayer Day, or 'It's OK Not to Have a Religion Day'
Today is our National Day of Prayer, emphasis on "our" and "National," meaning freedom is the prevailing principle through which to approach our discussions (and Internet comments).
A story we've been following recently at Big Think is Tesla's release of home and industrial batteries that store renewable energy. We've even had Elon Musk to the Big Think offices for an interview. Something Musk likes to talk about are so-called "first principles," or an assumption that can't be deduced from other principles. By going back to physics' first principles, Musk has been able to innovate multiple industries including banking (PayPal), energy (Tesla), and space travel (SpaceX).
That's a roundabout way of addressing the feelings surrounding our National Prayer Day, which happens to be today. If there is one first principle to the United States of America, it must be freedom. It may reach levels of jingoism at times, but freedom is in a lot of what we talk about when we talk about America: "free speech," "free enterprise," "free press," "free samples at Whole Foods," and so on... As Isaiah Berlin once said of freedom:
"Everything is what it is: Liberty is liberty, not equality or fairness or justice or culture, or human happiness or a quiet conscience."
Freedom is a bold concept on which to found a country. It might even be dangerous. So this Pew Research Center poll from 2013 is surprising: It found 55 percent of Americans say they pray daily. That struck me as a high number, but perhaps a cursory grace said over a meal explains the results. Or maybe there are just more sincere religious people than I thought. Either way, it's a powder keg for calm discussion.
After attending The Catholic University of America for a three-year graduate degree in the arts (in theater, no less, where religious faith doesn't overtly prevail, even at the CUA), I must say I've discovered a new outlook on God and prayer. A lot of sincere, intelligent people are doing it — that's what I've discovered (after spending most my 20s in a secular Europe).
Today is our National Day of Prayer, emphasis on "our" and "National," meaning freedom is the first principle through which our discussions (and Internet comments) should be derived. As President Barack Obama said today:
"In America, our nation is stronger because we welcome and respect people of all faiths, and because we protect the fundamental right of all peoples to practice their faith how they choose, to change their faith, or to practice no faith at all, and to do so free from persecution and discrimination."
And now, an Elon Musk video:
Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.
- Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
- As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
- If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
- Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
- By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Long hidden under trees, it's utterly massive
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Christmas has many pagan and secular traditions that early Christians incorporated into this new holiday.
- Christmas was heavily influenced by the Roman festival of Saturnalia.
- The historical Jesus was not born on December 25th as many contemporary Christians believe.
- Many staple Christmas traditions predated the festival and were tied into ancient pagan worship of the sun and related directly to the winter solstice.
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