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I have an almost completely cynical view of religion, which I don't apologise for. Looking at it from the outside too often the real purpose seems to be to make it possible for irrelevant nobodies to become loud self-important somebodies. Dogma and creed are largely irrelevant - persistent social dynamics are the giveaway.

Religion is strewn with gurus, high priests and priestesses, so-called leaders and so-called authorities whose only real talents are egotism, authoritarianism, exploitation and hucksterism.

It's not unlike politics from that point of view. As I'm sure I've said before, I find it bizarre that most jobs are rationed on the basis of ability, but the handful that offer real leadership power are rationed on the basis of popularity, superficial meanspirited charm, and demagoguery.

Sadly, this is only true because people remain desperate to buy what the hucksters are selling. So it goes. But it remains true that anyone who lacks scruples and has an unrealistically high opinion of themselves can do exceptionally well selling religion, and will reliably accumulate political, social and financial capital if their sales talents are good enough.

Which isn't to say that some religious types aren't modest and truly moral. There is a Christian Left which includes people whose views I'd guess would fit in comfortably here, and which has had a positive effect, especially in South America.

But many secular types are also modest and truly moral. And the Christian Left isn't exactly in the Catholic mainstream - Darth Pope notoriously doesn't approve. Elsewhere the links between authoritarianism, violence, and religious extremism are so established and so hard to ignore that the Christian Left remains a rare approachable exception rather than a golden rule.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 06:11:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're making a sociological analysis, discussing religion as a phenomenon of the society. Or the mystical part of religions is usually revealed to only a few, and then the gurus and their equivalents put into place the philosophy, which can reach complexities far beyond the scope of the ordinary individual. It does ressemble politics, in that there is political philosophy and there is also populism. Neither religion nor politics can exist without the two sides.
That said, buddhism (despite being associated with the term theocracy by some) can hardly be said to have a hierarchy and influence people the way the catholic church did/does here.
Finally, peoples need frameworks in their lives and in spite of all abuses, of all religions, present, past or to come, they seem to never fail to provide that. Is it because on some basic, fundamental human level they do respond to spiritualbiological needs? Is it because people are weak, naive and gullible? I guess we'll know that the moment our romulan ancestors will descend from the sky and finally reveal themselves.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 07:31:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Neither religion nor politics can exist without the two sides.

I beg to differ.

Finally, peoples need frameworks in their lives and in spite of all abuses, of all religions, present, past or to come, they seem to never fail to provide that.

But then again, so does many other social constructs with rather less onerous side effects.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 12:14:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Would you mind giving us some point making real life examples, for both of your statements. Thanks.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 02:45:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For the first, I must confess to having misread you. I took you to imply the necessity of a mystical quality to political theory when in fact you spoke of the distinction between ideology and populism. That you need both a coherent ideology and a broad support base to do effective politics is not something I want to question.

For the second? Friendship, family, the local club/pub/neighbourhood garden party, hobbies, art, scholarship, political activism and literally a thousand other things can and do serve the same social role as religion does in some communities.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 06:23:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You want to replace religion with the local club and hobbies ? Oh boy. I suspect there were absconse things in the second sentence as well.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 03:16:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No. I don't want to "replace" religion with them. I merely note that they also provide a structure and framework in life, which is what you claimed religion had a monopoly on.

Whether you create structure and framework in life around your religious in-group or around your local chess club is none of my business, as long as you don't attempt to enforce the rules of that club on the rest of society.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 05:37:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Would the two of you please end the sub-thread here?

One of this diary's original point was whether religion should be allowed to enter the political debate. It had been said that this was not desirable.

Well, this sub-thread here demonstrates that religion in politics does also dominate the political discourse here which may not be desired but a natural process that can reflect world affairs on all levels, depending on the issue discussed.

The underlying, 'When does life begin?'-question is an existential one to which different people find different answers.

At this point, many arguments have been heard. It may be best to agree to differ.

 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 06:03:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
may have derailed my thoughts.

Whatever this deep and irrational neumenal experience or belief is, I did not mean that it had to do with heiarchal structures of organized religions, frauds, charlatans, or superstitions conjured up not only to explain it but also give people power over others.

I also object to organized religion hijacking morality and ethics, especially at the expense of those on the secular side of the spectrum.

Bottom line, though, I think this thread proves my main point that I think the religious/non-religious argument is overblown and needlessly divisive.  I mean, no one has attacked me here for these beliefs that I admit are irrational and I have not insisted that I am correct or that others should believe as I do or hold these beliefs.  I think that is the key and this thread supports that in my opinion.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Fl÷te! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"

by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 11:38:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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