Thursday, July 22, 2010

"De-baptized?"

In the "news of the weird" category comes this report: "U.S. Atheists Reportedly Using Hair Dryers to 'De-Baptize'."



American atheists lined up to be "de-baptized" in a ritual using a hair dryer, according to a report Friday on U.S. late-night news program "Nightline."

Right: hair dryers, the nemesis of God!

Leading atheist Edwin Kagin blasted his fellow non-believers with the hair dryer to symbolically dry up the holy water sprinkled on their heads in days past. The styling tool was emblazoned with a label reading "Reason and Truth."

Kagin believes parents are wrong to baptize their children before they are able to make their own choices, even slamming some religious education as "child abuse." He said the blast of hot air was a way for adults to undo what their parents had done.

Okay, let me get this straight: they are atheists so therefore must believe that baptism is itself a ritual devoid of content. The application of water by priest or pastor in the Trinitarian formula, the invocation of the Holy Spirit and so forth - all these things have nothing real behind them. They are as devoid of divine presence as, say, hitting a golf ball on Sunday morning.

If they really are atheists, that's what they have to believe about the efficacy of baptism. So if baptism both symbolizes and accomplishes nothing real, then how can s-called "de-baptism" do so? There are only two choices here:

1. Baptism is nothing and means nothing. It's a zero, a null set. Therefore, de-baptism is nothing and means nothing. You cannot subtract from zero or take away from an empty set. So exactly what is the point?

2. Baptism does have some reality to it, so by going through motions with this hair dryer, that reality is presumed removed from the life of the de-baptized.

So which of these two, mutually-exclusive conclusions does someone standing before the dryer affirm? If baptism is not real, it can have no hold on you. But if baptism is real, at least in some way, then it cannot be revoked by human word or deed, since baptism is the work of the Holy Spirit with the priest or pastor as effective, but not original, agent. In most Christian theology of baptism, someone can no more be de-baptized than a Jewish man can be de-circumcised.

But all's well that ends well.

Ironically, Kagin's own son became a fundamentalist Christian minister after having "a personal revelation in Jesus Christ."

Bet he's baptized now.

Could be worse




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