Reasons to be cheerful

Forty-six percent of white evangelical Christians believe it’s at least somewhat likely that Jesus Christ will return in 2007, while 22 percent believe it’s very likely. Thirty-four percent of Protestants say it’s at least somewhat likely, compared with 17 percent of Catholics. Ten percent of those with no religion believe that Christ is at least somewhat likely to return in 2007.

Er, okay…. That paragraph should have the word “American” in it, of course.

If you’d like some prognostication from Americans (and others) with brains, the essential has unveiled its annual question to scientists, philosophers and futurologists, the subject this time being “What are you optimistic about? Why?”. Lots of juicy speculation from people whose thoughts and opinions are a deal more informed than the usual gaggle of pundits. “The future may be a bit more like Sweden and a bit less like America,” says Brian Eno. Looking at the statistics above, let’s hope so.

6 thoughts on “Reasons to be cheerful”

  1. What if when Jesus comes back he’s in a really bad mood like when he threw the moneylenders out of the temple?

    “Gentle Jesus meek and mild…”


    T shirt “Jesus is coming and boy is he pissed”

    Liked the Rudy Rucker answer to what are you optimistic about.

    “Presently I communicate an idea by broadcasting a string of words that serves as a program for reconstructing one of my thoughts.”

  2. Jesus would be put to work drumming up support for whichever Republican wretch is going to try for the White House in 2008.

    “Via the subdimensions you’ll be able to see every object in the world” sounds like Rucker’s equivalent of Borges’ Aleph.

  3. Rucker on his favourite writers:

    “Who are your favorite writers (fiction, nonfiction or poetry)? Why?

    Thomas Pynchon is the James Joyce of our time; he uses the richest language, and he plumbs the deepest feelings. For a science writer, Pynchon is rather congenial, as he has a nice way of integrating scientific modes of thought into his texts.

    Jorge Luis Borges has wonderful ideas, fine language and a bracing dryness. Borges has a phrase that’s of comfort to all struggling writers (he’s writing of Melville and Edgar Allan Poe): “Vast populations, towering cities, erroneous and clamorous publicity have conspired to make unknown great men one of America’s traditions.”

    When I was young, my favorite science-fiction writer was Robert Sheckley. When I was 15 I was injured when the chain of a swing broke and I ruptured my spleen. I was in the hospital, and my mother brought me Sheckley’s Untouched By Human Hands (Ballantine, 1954). Somewhere Nabokov writes about the “initial push that set the ball rolling down these corridors of years,” and for me it was Sheckley’s book. I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen, and I knew in my heart of hearts that the greatest thing I could ever become was a science-fiction writer. For many years, it seemed like too much to dare hope for. I’ve been lucky; not only am I an SF writer, I am a science writer as well.”


    damn that’s a long web address

  4. Sheckley is an underrated writer as well. Far more inventive than Douglas Adams when it comes to comic sf.

  5. “Kingsley Amis’ critical overview of Science Fiction named Sheckley as our field’s brightest light. But Sheckley was a humorist, and nowadays this is how our Mark Twains are treated.” ie badly

    “His novel Dimension of Miracles is often cited as an influence on Douglas Adams, although in an interview for Neil Gaiman’s book Don’t Panic: The Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion, Adams claimed not to have read it until after writing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

    When I wanted to read about humorous SF authors I consulted an early edition of Peter Nicholls Encyclopedia of SF.

    That’s how I discovered Bob Shaw, Philip K Dick and John Sladek, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert A Heinlein etc

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