Unlike recent authors who emphatically say No! or Yes! to God, Michael Krasny joins the millions who know they don't know. As a radio host, college professor, and literary scholar, he has spent decades leading conversations on every imaginable topic. He has discussed life's most important questions with the foremost thinkers in virtually every discipline. And yet answers to some questions -- the big, three-o'clock-in-the-morning questions -- elude him. Despite this, Krasny does not discount belief systems or ridicule faith. Instead, he seeks. He explores morality, eternal life, why we do good, and why evil sometimes triumphs, and his quest is informed by artists, scientists, world events, and even films. Personal and universal, timely and timeless, Spiritual Envy is a deeply wise yet warmly welcoming conversation, an invitation to ask one's own questions -- no matter how inconclusive the answers.
Michael Krasny, PhD, hosts the nation's most listened to locally produced public radio talk show, Forum with Michael Krasny. Forum is heard weekdays on KQED-FM in San Francisco, an affiliate of National Public Radio, as well as on Sirius-XM Satellite Radio. An award-winning broadcaster who has interviewed many of the great cultural icons of our era, he is the author of Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life (Stanford University Press) and coauthor of Sound Ideas (McGraw-Hill). Krasny is also an English professor at San Francisco State University.
Michael Krasny, Ph.D., is host of KQED’s award-winning Forum, a news and public affairs program that concentrates on the arts, culture, health, business, and technology. Forum is one of KQED’s most-popular shows and the nation’s most-listened-to locally produced public radio talk show. Before coming to KQED Public Radio in 1993, Dr. Krasny hosted a night-time talk program for KGO Radio and co-anchored the weekly KGO television show Nightfocus. He hosted Bay TV’s Take Issue, a nightly news analysis show, programs for KQED Public Television, KRON television, and NPR, and did news commentary for KTVU television. He has also served as host of NPR’s Talk of the Nation. Since 1970, he has been a professor of English at San Francisco State University and has taught at Stanford University and University of California, San Francisco. He is the author of Spiritual Envy: An Agnostic’s Quest and Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life, coauthor of the textbook Sound Ideas, and creator of the DVD presentation “Masterpieces of Short Fiction.” He is a widely published scholar and literary critic, a fiction writer, and a guest and frequent interviewer on the City Arts & Lectures stage. He has worked widely as a facilitator and host in the corporate sector and as moderator for a host of major nonprofit events. Dr. Krasny has interviewed many of the leading newsmakers and cultural icons of our time, including former President Jimmy Carter, Cesar Chavez, Noam Chomsky, Hilary Rodham Clinton, Francis Ford Coppola, Don DeLillo, Newt Gingrich, Vice President Al Gore, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, President Barack Obama, Rosa Parks, Nancy Pelosi, Robert Redford, Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, John Updike, and countless others.
Michael Krasny, host of KQED's award-winning radio show "Forum," explains what led him to write his new book, Spiritual Envy: An Agnostic's Quest. Recalling the comfort of his unwavering childhood faith in the face of physical abuse, Krasny traces his later agnosticism to his intellectual pursuits.
Doctrine that one cannot know the existence of anything beyond the phenomena of experience. It is popularly equated with religious skepticism, and especially with the rejection of traditional Christian beliefs under the impact of modern scientific thought. T.H. Huxley popularized philosophical agnosticism after coining the term agnostic (as opposed to gnostic) in 1869, to designate one who repudiated traditional Judeo-Christian theism but was not a doctrinaire atheist (seeatheism). Agnosticism may mean no more than the suspension of judgment on ultimate questions because of insufficient evidence, or it may constitute a rejection of traditional Christian tenets.
Relation of human beings to God or the gods or to whatever they consider sacred or, in some cases, merely supernatural. Archaeological evidence suggests that religious beliefs have existed since the first human communities. They are generally shared by a community, and they express the communal culture and values through myth, doctrine, and ritual. Worship is probably the most basic element of religion, but moral conduct, right belief, and participation in religious institutions also constitute elements of the religious life. Religions attempt to answer basic questions intrinsic to the human condition (Why do we suffer? Why is there evil in the world? What happens to us when we die?) through the relationship to the sacred or supernatural or (e.g., in the case of Buddhism) through perception of the true nature of reality. Broadly speaking, some religions (e.g., Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are outwardly focused, and others (e.g., Jainism, Buddhism) are inwardly focused.
@ coRnflEks: Quite an essay. Being linguistically oversensitive, perhaps, I couldn't help being jarred by the essayist's repeated tendency to have his verbs disagree, numerically, with their nouns. Examples: "Great EXAMPLES of this IS ..." "... what he calls neoatheist(s)." "... these two QUALITIES more or less DISQUALIFIES him as a valid source of information." "... how many PEOPLE BELIEVES it ..." "Some animal rights GROUPS HAS made..." "... upsetting people, angering people and creatING suffering ..." "... I feel the NEW ATHEISTS HAS their work cut out for them." "They're simplY speaking strongly and clearly ..."
Obviously, not all of the examples have to do with number, but they, too, scratched my linguistic chalkboard. Though your thought processes are superior, that doesn't exempt you from checking your work, professor. I tend to be typographically accident prone and always have to check my work, so don't feel like the "Lone Ranger." };-]
I think I agree, generally, with your theme, especially toward the end where the implication is, cutting the dog's, or in this case sheep's, tail off an inch at a time does not spare it pain. I do wish you, and the sheep, well!
Mildly uninspiring. Although I'm not militant anti-religion either, I strongly disagree with Krasny's rosie, deferential assessment of the net effect of religion as a force for good. Additionally, his comments about the behaviors of orthodox zealots being OK as long as they don't affect him must be a misstatement. It's obvious why he has found a home on NPR which tends to favor hosts with calm, relaxed voices and equally non-confrontational topicality.
Krasny comes across as a damaged individual.
I found his childhood story of abuse by his school teacher very touching... and illuminating. I can't shake the impression that he is living out his abuse and situation on a larger scale involving multiple people. His whole life is about pleasing others and being approved - confirmation that he is doing his job and is a good person. Very like the wife who keeps going back to her husband who's beating her every weekend, though I hope he is finding more good and decent people to please than bad ones.
He is also think he's a very sensitive man, one of the few men who prioritize feelings before rationale. More women than men tend to think that way, but he surely is one. Clear signs of this can be found in almost every sentence he speaks, as he is always referring to his or another's emotional state when evaluating truth statements, situations and the correctness of actions. Great examples of this is when he explains that he "didn't find any tolerance for religion" from what he calls neo-atheist, or when he thinks about the profoundness of someone saying "he thought his life was blessed."
What is sad but true, is that these two qualities more or less disqualifies him as a valid source of opinion.
Truth doesn't change based on whether one wants it to, how many people believes it, how strongly it is believed or how much consolation it provides. He expresses disbelief when Dawkins and the other new-atheists tell it like it is, without regards to the poor woman who's whole life is based on her faith (something Dawkins would never do personally face to face like Krasny depicts it - Dawkins is a rather gentle and mellow fellow, as I'm sure he knows). But then again, he hasn't thought about whether it might just be the best thing to do in the long run and when considering the bigger picture. He doesn't consider the fact that some temporary pain today might prevent debilitating agony later on.
When castrating sheep, you can literally rip their testicles off through a hole in their scrotum, or you can but a rubber band around them to cut off blood supply and to slowly whither away and eventually fall off. Some animal rights groups has made the rubber band approach mandatory in some countries, but when actually tested and measured, it turns out that the rubber band leads to more pain, and for a far longer period. To act on what we would like to think is true, without actually knowing the truth of the matter, can sometimes lead to more suffering, not less. Sometimes, telling it straight out is the best way.
Taking a stand can be very hard. It can result in upsetting people, angering people and create suffering, either directly and indirectly. Krasny seems to me incapable of doing that. Agnostics may not all be cowards. I suspect a very few of them are. Most are just too sensitive, shy or perhaps unsure of themselves to have a clear opinion on such an important matter. Krasny seems like one.
When it comes to my own conclusion about the subject, I think you who're reading this might already have a good picture. I think Sam Harris has the best ideas, though perhaps not the best approach. Religion has a tendency to appeal to emotions and empathy, and that is where I feel the new-atheists has most of their work cut out for them. I'm not taking the side of those who say they're doing a disservice though - I do not think they're being "strident", "arrogant" or any other unfounded allegation. They're simple speaking strongly and clearly - to which I have no objection.
No, if all religion could be wiped away with a single viewing of Cosmos by Carl Sagan, then there wouldn't be any need for stronger measures like Christopher Hitchens. But I'm afraid there simply is.
Dear lord. I can't believe this guy still has the intellectual dishonesty to use the "you can't prove a negative" argument after all Richard Dawkins has written. For the record, here is once again the essence of what Dawkins says:
"We cannot, of course, disprove God, just as we can't disprove Thor, fairies, leprechauns and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But, like those other fantasies that we can't disprove, we can say that God is very very improbable."
He straw mans atheism by assuming it has to prove there is no god. Of course, atheists can't prove a negative. What we can disprove (ans must disprove) is theism, not deism. The speakers neglect of this difference is crucial to his main proclamation of agnosticism.
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