We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
...to be a secular extremist is to be a fully horizontal man, and thus, to commit not only spiritual, but intellectual, suicide. It is the ultimate cosmic inversion, for it is to elevate our fallen state to the highest virtue. It is "to love only terrestrial life, to the detriment of the ascending and celestial path," to be "exteriorized," and to "love only outer things, to the detriment of moral and spiritual values." Ultimately it is "to sin against transcendence, thus it is to forget God and consequently the meaning of life; and outwardness is to sin against immanence, thus to forget our immortal soul and consequently its vocation" (Schuon)
Read the whole thing, and be tolerant of Gagdad's rambling and his idiosyncracies. I like the parts about Truth, and about intelligence.
We often reflect here on what our secular, pop-culture horizontal gods are today: ideologies, Gaia, science, self, governments, etc., even orgasms. When I consider the things that help me locate myself on a point above the x axis, "to fly like an eagle while being chained to the floor," I come up with poetry, song, prayer, moments of communion with others, and random moments of self-oblivious immersion in some aspect of Creation. My links to the vertical and to the things that cannot be touched. It's the job of preachers to assist that link too, isn't it? Alas for me, much of Scripture tends to speak more to my mind than to my soul, and True Beauty only blinds me. Working on those things, though.
Gagdad Bob is our own modern-day version of C.S. Lewis, I think. He makes so many of the same points, although Lewis was less a little less academic about it, and more directly philosophical. He was clearer.
BD, you forgot one of our foremost pop-culture horizontal gods --- the anti-aging culture -- complete with Botox, breast and all other kinds of implants and all related cosmetic surgery.
As for me, I'll take some Handel, Schubert and Beethoven, the moon and stars, the lilacs and daffodils, good food and wine, my dog and a good snuggle with my beloved. Proverbs tells me I am to enjoy these things with the fear of God in me and I try to do that.
While I agree that this description does fit some of the atheist/agnostic people I have met, I would disagree that it matches everyone. I think the critical question about religion is, "Do you believe in God?" If you don't, then why should you lie? I don't see humanity as the pinnacle of creation. How could I possibly compare the vast beauty and strangeness of the universe with Detroit and prefer the latter? When a religious persons sees how amazing the universe is, he/she is compelled to see the work of a master creator. After all, how could all of this come to be without a plan? However, does there actually NEED to be someone behind the scenes? What if all of this is what it appears to be? To me, that is an amazing thought. Inspiring even. It means that this life is all I have. There is nothing else waiting for me when I die. Therefore, I can only conclude that I have to do my best to make this world a better place now. After all, the only way for me to live on is by ensuring that my actions have some kind of effect on the future. My secular people seem to hate religious people, but I don't. So long as your religion makes you want to love your neighbor and try to make the world a better place, I'm happy for you. Life's too short to argue about that which we can not possibly know. Just one atheist's two cents...