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All participants in the debate, believers or non-believers appeared to have a Judeo-Christian cultural background.

We've been over this point before. There's no such thing as a "Judeo-Christian background," any more than there is a "Christian-Islamic backgroun." The word you're looking for is either "Christian," if you wish to exclude Judaism and Islam, or "monotheist," if you wish to include them. "Judeo-Christian" is a piece of newspeak that really has no theological, cultural or historical justification.

As to faith in general, it occurred to me that it is very much like love.

Having previously made that analogy myself, I'll re-iterate the salient points of my comparison:

Love is a state of mind, not a statement about the external physical reality. It only has to be true for one person to be said to exist. Deities, on the other hand, are typically statements about physical reality. Which means that they have to be true for everyone.

It is similar to faith: If you have faith, then faith must exist as a state of mind. This does not imply that the object of your faith actually exists. Similarly, one could imagine, for instance, that a person frequenting an internet site could fall in love with a wholly fictional persona created by another user of the site. The love, being a state of mind, would be no less real for the fact that the object of the love did not, in fact, exist.

Now, if you are fine with reducing your deity of choice to a purely personal and subjective experience that does not necessarily have any more applicability to my life than my love has to your life, then I have no particular quarrel with your god. But if you make arguments that rely on your god as their premise, then I will feel free to point out that those arguments are inapplicable to anybody who happens to not agree with your personal, subjective faith.

There was the question of whether knowledge of this reality would be useful in any way. We can e.g. ask for full employment and new resources but awareness of true reality may teach us that our world isn't made to last. Life as we know it is just a transitional stage, real, yet passing, and it is part of a larger plan, and we may find consolation therein.

This is a cop-out. That attitude will not give food to those who are hungry and unfed, or warmth to those who are cold and unclothed.

If this narrative is offered as a point of consolation for those who are unfed and unclothed, then its value is at least debatable - it may provide some intangible comfort, but it may also provide a narrative that promotes inaction where action is possible. For the affluent, well-fed, well-clothed, well-housed people who have access to the full productive power of the modern industrial state, however, a narrative of inaction is an inexcusable abrogation of our duty to use our privileged position to improve the human condition.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 07:38:04 AM EST
There's no such thing as a "Judeo-Christian background,"

I followed that debate but didn't think of it when I was writing the above. I don't think "monotheistic" would do as an alternative. I could have said, we've been mostly exposed to Western (North-American and European) culture.

Judeo-Christian gives credit to Christianity's roots in Judaism which was mentioned before, as well.

I have replied to the middle part of your comment in Part 2 of this diary (which was inspired by your above comment).

This is a cop-out. That attitude will not give food to those who are hungry and unfed, or warmth to those who are cold and unclothed.

No, no. This 'attitude' frees you from feeling responsible for all the ills in this world. It is only one aspect of a Christian outlook.
I haven't elaborated on the Christian way of life, on laws and ethics etc. I have so far only described what is, not how we should act (could be Part 3...).

a narrative of inaction is an inexcusable abrogation of our duty to use our privileged position to improve the human condition.

There's no narrative of inaction.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 08:10:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, no. This 'attitude' frees you from feeling responsible for all the ills in this world. It is only one aspect of a Christian outlook.

But to a certain extent you are responsible. You are a citizen of a powerful state, a state that has it well within its means to either support or obstruct the improvement of the human condition. At the moment, most if not all Western states are, on balance, obstructing improvement of the human condition. Being a citizen of a reasonably democratic state means being, on some level and to some extent, responsible for its actions and its inaction.

In previous eras, where most of the ills that befell humanity - drought, epidemics, accidents, etc. - were external to human society (and those ills that were rooted in society - war and other sorts of banditry, chiefly - were far beyond the influence of most people), it made sense to relieve humans of responsibility for them. Blaming yourself for ills that you are powerless to change is folly. However, in the current day and age, most of the ills that befall humanity - war, hunger, deprivation and so on - are caused by the action or neglect of human societies in whose governance you and I have a say.

So what is needed today is not an ideology that helps us to ignore what we cannot change, for very few things are truly beyond our ability to change. What is needed today is an ideology that spurs us to grasp the tools we have with both hands and make change happen for the better.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 11:02:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd agree with the goals, but we don't need no more steenking ideologies!

How about education, understanding, empathy, civic understanding?

No gods needed, especially when "god people" press for big families, riches, and conversions of all of us.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 11:31:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You say, "no gods needed" because you have identified the problems and know the solution. Good luck!
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 04:44:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We do know the solution, at least on a purely technical level. So inasmuch as we humans can get our political shit together, we don't need any god to radically improve the human condition. The problem is that too many people have a vested interest in the solution not happening. And just shooting them rarely leads to the sort of results we want.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 2nd, 2010 at 10:29:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which can be summed up as, "we know of a solution that doesn't work" which in turn translates as, "we don't have a solution".

C'est bien logique, non?

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Tue Nov 2nd, 2010 at 10:36:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're wasting your effort. Even if we do get our political shit together, God will get the credit, not us. Or, as Mark Twain memorably put it:
The hookworm was discovered two or three years ago by a physician, who had been patiently studying its victims for a long time. The disease induced by the hookworm had been doing its evil work here and there in the earth ever since Shem landed on Ararat, but it was never suspected to be a disease at all. The people who had it were merely supposed to be lazy, and were therefore despised and made fun of, when they should have been pitied. The hookworm is a peculiarly sneaking and underhanded invention, and has done its surreptitious work unmolested for ages; but that physician and his helpers will exterminate it now.

God is back of this. He has been thinking about it for six thousand years, and making up his mind. The idea of exterminating the hookworm was his. He came very near doing it before Dr. Charles Wardell Stiles did. But he is in time to get the credit of it. He always is.

It is going to cost a million dollars. He was probably just in the act of contributing that sum when a man pushed in ahead of him -- as usual. Mr. Rockefeller. He furnishes the million, but the credit will go elsewhere -- as usual.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Nov 2nd, 2010 at 11:50:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You said (I'm paraphrasing you) that you were less interested in what is real than in the usefulness of the things you find.

If you find a narrative that will lead to inaction and not feed the hungry, you don't want it. Good.
If you want to be encouraged to do good deeds till the last day, then you'll find it in the Christian narrative.

What you won't find is a way out -. There is an end to it all. We will die and life on Earth as we know it will not remain forever, either.
If you want to feed the hungry, do so now, knowing that the hunger will end, not because there will be more food but because hunger will be no more.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 08:39:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why does one need to be 'encouraged' to do good deeds in the first place? If you want to do good deeds till the last day, just go do it. Being a Christian, or not being a Christian, has little or nothing to do with a person deciding to exhibit acts of kindness toward others.
by sgr2 on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 10:16:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was replying to JakeS' concern that reality would only matter if it was "useful".

I assume that "useful" means to be helped in doing good deeds that one can do with or without faith, in the sense of 'give me food to feed the hungry'. I don't criticize the good intention but tried to direct the attention to the fact that reality is not necessarily shaped according to his idea of it ('we need more raw materials, clothes and food to feed the hungry!' - 'Either God provides, or I don't care...').

Since JakeS pointed out that a bigger idea towards an end would lead to passivity, I emphasised that love of the next is at the heart of Christianity (I put it differently).

The question is, are we 'just' do-gooders because it feels right, and we're compassionate of those who live in misery, or do we also humble ourselves to a God whose project with us or the World may not match our own ideas of them?

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 11:02:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
False dichotomy.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!
by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 12:25:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The alignment of culture (what is that? the self? society?) with nature is a good ambition, and it would be perfect with nature were so, or else, if you're at peace with being in harmony with human nature in yourself and with others and with nature, i.e. including depleting resources, natural catastrophes, hunger, wars, suffering and angry people that are also part of "nature".
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 04:42:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"perfect IF nature were so..."
(I should reread before sending myself. :))
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 05:55:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you want to feed the hungry, do so now, knowing that the hunger will end, not because there will be more food but because hunger will be no more.

This is a silly supposition. It is clearly within the power of modern technology to feed every hungry human on the planet. The engineering has been solved. "More food" not only is not impossible, it is already available.

The rest is politics.

If you want to be encouraged to do good deeds till the last day, then you'll find it in the Christian narrative.

That's cute. But I don't do charity. I do politics. Give a man a bread, he's fed for a day. Give a man land reform, and he's fed for a lifetime.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 10:25:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you want to feed the hungry, do so now, knowing that the hunger will end, not because there will be more food but because hunger will be no more.
This is a silly supposition. It is clearly within the power of modern technology to feed every hungry human on the planet. The engineering has been solved. "More food" not only is not impossible, it is already available.

The rest is politics.

So you're looking for a political advisor god - IF at all, hmm.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 11:05:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So are you. The difference is that Jake seems to have higher expectations of what a loving god should be capable of than you do.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 12:32:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Higher expectations" - by human standards, yes.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 03:13:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i'd say jake has more male expectations.

women look for different aspects?

OT, but orthogonal, hopefully...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 04:53:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What in blazes are you talking about?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 02:52:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He perceived, I think, that JakeS being a man might have different expectation of a god than I being a woman. He might expect of God that he wins (political) wars for/with him. And I would 'naturally' have more 'humble'(?) ambitions like peace for the family. This of course is a stereo-typed view but not entirely wrong.

I believe, though, that independent of gender differences, JakeS would wants god to do what he (JakeS) thinks is right and I (try to) trust that god will do what is right for us, by also making my wishes known. In Christian-spiritual-speak this translates as, 'JakeS is proud; Lily tries to be humble'.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 04:39:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry for the "s"s in the wrong places...
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 04:40:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He might expect of God that he wins (political) wars for/with him.

No. I just expect that if God has a problem with my political ambitions, she'll tell me to my face. That seems like the honourable and respectful thing to do. And if she doesn't have a problem with my political ambitions, then she should kindly start helping or step out of the way.

Since she appears to have decided to step out of the way, I have no particular quarrel with her. It's the fan club I occasionally butt heads with.

In Christian-spiritual-speak this translates as, 'JakeS is proud; Lily tries to be humble'.

I distinguish between the virtue and the vice of humility.

The first time I accelerated an electron beam to a perceptible fraction of the speed of light, I was humbled by the experience. When I look upon the night sky on a clear night away from the light of the city, I feel humility.

When I look upon the kings and priests that humans have raised up before us... not so much.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 07:50:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
Since she appears to have decided to step out of the way, I have no particular quarrel with her. It's the fan club I occasionally butt heads with.

amen, lol

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:18:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily interprets...

The first time I accelerated an electron beam to a perceptible fraction of the speed of light, I was humbled by the experience. When I look upon the night sky on a clear night away from the light of the city, I feel humility.

These are beautiful experiences of God.

When I look upon the kings and priests that humans have raised up before us... not so much.

You observe the first commandments.

if God has a problem with my political ambitions, she'll tell me to my face. That seems like the honourable and respectful thing to do. And if she doesn't have a problem with my political ambitions, then she should kindly start helping or step out of the way.

Maybe -- God is pleased with your political ambitions but doesn't "help out" because she (for you :)) has a different agenda that will lead elsewhere. Not helping out is her way of telling you to your face.

She might enlighten you more on where she's headed with you, with us, if you asked.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:30:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
She might enlighten you more on where she's headed with you, with us, if you asked.

I just did, didn't I?

If God prefers to keep lurking, she is welcome to avail herself of the e-mail next to my alias, in the bottom of my posts, rather than responding in the thread.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:35:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So are you. The difference is that Jake seems to have higher expectations of what a loving god should be capable of than you do.

Actually, I don't have any expectations of a deity's abilities at all, loving or not, nor any threshold for trivial contributions below which it doesn't count. Any demonstrable action on her part would be something I would take into account.

A one per cent increase in grain harvests may be unimpressive compared to the feats of modern agriculture, but that doesn't mean I won't take it if it comes without fertiliser runoff or pesticides in the drinking water. Similarly, a one percent decline in agricultural output may be well within the ability of modern agriculture to handle, but if we had good evidence that we could make it go away by pledging half a percent of our output as a burnt offering to the offended deity... well, we'd be stupid not to do that.

The kicker is that we don't actually see such effects when we look for them. Ever.

Now, we aren't always looking, and maybe God intervenes in subtle and mysterious ways that elude the best statistical investigations of the brightest bureaucrats and scientists of our age. But that seems like kind of a dick thing to do.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 07:32:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
maybe God intervenes in subtle and mysterious ways that elude the best statistical investigations of the brightest bureaucrats and scientists of our age.

<sigh>

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 07:39:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually that's exactly what I meant.

It doesn't matter if god exists if god doesn't do anything useful. Even if you define the odd unexplainable event as a miracle, god doesn't improve the morals of his followers - even if you allow for the original skewed distribution, there are more Christians than atheists in US prisons - and god makes no other useful contribution to the human experience, beyond providing a catch-all dump for the weird fuzzies, vague feelings of moral entitlement, and rather of lot of high level politics we could all do without.

Dogma conveniently tries to pretend that none of this matters because there's an invisible deferred reward, and as mere humans who cannot eff the ineffable we should just believe.

That's an odd definition of 'loving.'

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 07:44:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
even if you allow for the original skewed distribution, there are more Christians than atheists in US prisons

I would be very careful with that statistic. Many American prison wardens seem to be labouring under the impression that people who profess belief in their particular version of Christianity are more deserving of the sort of perks that prison wardens can bestow - including favourable mention in appeals, more leave time, and so on. And even if the vast majority are scrupulously fair, inmates may not want to find out the hard way where their particular warden(s) fall(s) on that spectrum.

Oh, and religious groups are notorious for claiming membership of people who have only the most marginal affiliation. If talking to the prison chaplain is sufficient for being claimed as a member of his flock, then anybody who wants to have a conversation that isn't about crime and punishment and appeals and lawyers will have to either wait for visitation hours or be counted as a Christian.

In fact, I would expect it to be a quite general feature of confined environments with authoritarian power relationships (prisons, military units, boarding schools, etc.) that "invisible" minorities (atheists, homosexuals, political deviants, etc.) would be grossly underreported. The incentives to go along to get along are very strong when you are forced to associate with the same colleagues/inmates for a long time with no appeal, or when the appeal is to authorities who may not view your minority favourably.

tl;dr: Just as there is no particular reason to expect there to be no atheists in the foxholes, there's no particular reason to expect there to be no atheists in prison cells.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:08:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The original stats are here.

I don't agree that you only need to include active - i.e. fervently church-going - Christians in the stats, because that assumes that you only need to include active Christians in comparative census data.

Affiliation is self-reported and I don't see why people in and out of prison would use different criteria.

However you dice it, the percentage of self-reported atheists in prison is at least an order of magnitude smaller than the percentage of self-reported atheists in the population as a whole.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 10:15:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't agree that you only need to include active - i.e. fervently church-going - Christians in the stats, because that assumes that you only need to include active Christians in comparative census data.

You're right. The ability to compare to census data is a strong point in favour of using the same standards as the census bureau.

Affiliation is self-reported and I don't see why people in and out of prison would use different criteria.

That rather depends on whether the inmates were convinced that their answer would remain anonymous.

However you dice it, the percentage of self-reported atheists in prison is at least an order of magnitude smaller than the percentage of self-reported atheists in the population as a whole.

I'd like to slice it by controlling for some of the obvious confounders, such as social class, parental education level, educational attainment, etc. It's known that these are anti-correlated to convictions and correlated to self-reporting as a member of an otherwise invisible minority. That could be because atheists (and homosexuals and syndicalists and so on) are more skilled, better educated and more morally upstanding... or it could be because upper-middle class educated people are less likely to be convicted for their crimes and more likely to be granted enough power over their own lives to make it safe to admit to being a member of a politically disfavoured minority.

Overcoming an order of magnitude is going to be non-trivial. But given how rigidly classist American society is... well, let's just say that it may not be impossible. Now, I would not be terribly surprised if there were an effect that persisted even after we stripped out the socio-economic confounders. But it would not be a full order of magnitude.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:01:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Faith in God/Christ is not equal to having faith in other Christians or in a religious institution.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:21:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Except when it does.

Look - it's clear that like every other Christian on the planet, your faith means exactly what you want it to mean. No more, and no less.

This is not unusual. It's so not unusual it's absolutely standard practice.

Anecdote time - I once turned a Christian chat room into a nuclear war by asking everyone what they agreed on.

It turned out that they didn't agree on anything at all. There was no single piece of morality or dogma that all of these so-called monotheistic Christians held in common - not abortion, not the divinely inspired nature of the bible, not the meaning of the life of Jesus.

None of it was shared.

More than that, they disagreed so violently that the discussion turned very nasty very quickly. It was no-true-Scotsman with infinite degrees of freedom and a subtext of 'If you don't agree you're the one going to hell.'

So - that's Christianity for you. You all believe in different contradictory things, and you think that just because you use the same words to describe them, the rest of us aren't going to notice.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 10:27:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Anecdote time - I once turned a Christian chat room into a nuclear war by asking everyone what they agreed on.

Isn't there a Geneva convention forbidding that?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 11:02:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Look - it's clear that like every other Christian on the planet, your faith means exactly what you want it to mean. No more, and no less.
This is not unusual. It's so not unusual it's absolutely standard practice.

This is your perception, apparently. And, of course, it's quite easy for me to hide my personal Christian bias because there aren't dozens of other Christians around to tell me why exactly I'm doomed.

We, everybody, Christians or not, need the honest friction and disagreement. I love to be criticized, and I know how very hard and liberating it can be to let go of a conviction that I considered essential.

You address a larger problem. Old Testament law was a Law that had to be observed by the letter, and every effort was made to either observe the law or find ways around it or to correct errors through offering sacrifices.

The New Law sets us free. It acknowledges that we are unable to be without sin. We know the Ten Commandments but with the Holy Spirit in our hearts and love for God, ourselves and our next, we should observe them without a problem.

Here's the new problem: We have a New Law and continue to apply the old rules. We are afraid of judgment, we are afraid of hell. We make mistakes, we lie but we're afraid to admit them.  So, we (Christians) entangle ourselves in a net of trying-to-be-holiness, making ourselves believe nobody would notice... ouch!

We need a pure heart, meaning we need to be honest in order for the Holy Spirit to be with us.

Christians are often raised with a load of behavioural and moral rules and the feeling that if they aren't observed, judgment (by other people), punishment (by parents, teachers..) and eventually hell will follow. You will find that mostly in Catholics and the American Religious Right.

Liberal Protestants have a different problem. They often lack guideposts and limits. Since everything's allowed, they cannot be wrong on anything. Everything is always relative and a matter of interpretation.

The former cannot be honest because they're too afraid; the latter aren't true because there really isn't any such thing as objective truth.

However, without truth - no Holy Spirit... and we cut ourselves off from God. And, sure enough, everyone around is going to notice.

Anecdote time - I once turned a Christian chat room into a nuclear war by asking everyone what they agreed on.
It turned out that they didn't agree on anything at all.

s.a. - and I may add, that the conscience of Christians is often `sharpened' in a way that certain moral questions are really matters of life and death. If you cut your opponent's opinion some slack, it will immediately endanger your own integrity, your life-saving convictions and values...

That's why such thing happens,

they disagreed so violently that the discussion turned very nasty very quickly. It was no-true-Scotsman with infinite degrees of freedom and a subtext of 'If you don't agree you're the one going to hell.'

---------

So - that's Christianity for you. You all believe in different contradictory things, and you think that just because you use the same words to describe them, the rest of us aren't going to notice.

That's not Christianity for me. ;-)

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 12:11:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
god doesn't improve the morals of his followers

bad apples do their dirty work better in barrels of good fruit.

most religious people actually do reinforce their consciences with their beliefs, (without making a fuss about it), the problems occur when their religion is bad religion, and teaches them to think and act in stupid, retrogressive ways. that majority of people whose religion is innocent of such hateful balderdash, and whose prayers are more likely to be ones about fertility or rain than hating arabs or jews or xtians or anyone else just don't make it onto the tv and front pages...

god, even the idea of god is so powerful it can turbo anything. good religion should teach us to harness that power for the good of all. some of it used to, or pretends to, but precious little keeps it simple, because the more you can mystify something, the more bells and whistles you can dangle off it, the more chance to wield power of an unsalubrious variety.

this is a journey to the heart of darkness, and an abuse of energy.

it happens... a manifestation of wrong thinking. someone got their wires crossed.

your point about prisons, whooosh!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:43:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
If this narrative is offered as a point of consolation for those who are unfed and unclothed, then its value is at least debatable - it may provide some intangible comfort, but it may also provide a narrative that promotes inaction where action is possible.

As Joe Hill put it:

You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You'll get pie in the sky when you die.


Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 09:03:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Judeo-Christian - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The earliest uses cited by the Oxford English Dictionary of the terms "Judeo-Christian" and "Judeo-Christianity" date to 1899 and 1910 respectively. Both terms appeared in discussions of theories of the emergence of Christianity, and with a different sense than the one common today. "Judeo-Christianity" here referred to the early Christian church, whose members were Jewish converts and still considered themselves part of the Jewish community.[2]

However, earlier German use of the term "Judeo-Christian" - in a decidedly negative sense, contrasting with the one prevalent in the twentieth century - can be found in the late writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, who emphasized what he saw as neglected aspects of continuity between the Jewish world view and that of Christianity. The expression appears in The Antichrist, published in 1895 and written several years earlier; a fuller development of Nietzsche's argument can be found in a prior work, On the Genealogy of Morality.

The present meaning was for the first time used on 27 July 1939 with the phrase "The Judaeo-Christian scheme of morals" in the New English Weekly.[3] The term gained much greater currency particularly in the political sphere from the 1920s and 1930s, promoted by liberal groups which evolved into the National Conference of Christians and Jews, to fight antisemitism by expressing a more inclusive idea of the United States of America than the previously dominant rhetoric of the nation as a specifically Christian Protestant country.;[4][5] By 1952 President-Elect Dwight Eisenhower was speaking of the "Judeo-Christian concept" being the "deeply religious faith" on which "our sense of government... is founded".[6]



We all bleed the same color.
by budr on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 11:09:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oops, I meant this to be a reply to JakeS's comment above.

JakeS:

We've been over this point before. There's no such thing as a "Judeo-Christian background," any more than there is a "Christian-Islamic backgroun." The word you're looking for is either "Christian," if you wish to exclude Judaism and Islam, or "monotheist," if you wish to include them. "Judeo-Christian" is a piece of newspeak that really has no theological, cultural or historical justification.

There is most definitely such a thing as a Judeo-Christian background, a common cultural and historic thread that links Judaism and Christianity.  There is also most definitely a very newspeakian redefinition that has emerged in the last decade or so.  Like so many other concepts related to our common cultural and moral values, the term has been co-opted by the Religious Right.

We all bleed the same color.

by budr on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 11:21:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a lot of newspeak going on among Atheists in general.

I am a rational Christian, and nobody can take that away from me. I come from a tradition of enlightened, rational followers of Christ.

My faith is rational, It is based on what I call experience and rational reflection on that. Of course there are assumptions, but Goedel teaches us, that there are always assumptions and agreement somewhere.

My assumptions and agreements, that I share in my practiced religion every hour of the day with some other people on this planet are not shared by everyone - fair enough. That however does not make it irrational.

Btw. it is Reformation Day today. Do you know, what started the reformation? The attempt of a rational discussion of thesis at a University.

by PeWi on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 12:41:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am a rational Christian, and nobody can take that away from me. I come from a tradition of enlightened, rational followers of Christ.

My faith is rational, It is based on what I call experience and rational reflection on that.

Our faith is as rational as God's habit to do miracles is natural.

The acknowledgement of a spiritual realm is not irrational. It's rather 'super-rational', as I've read somewhere. Hence, this diary's title should be 'The super-rational Absolute'.

Thank you for reminding me of that.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 03:45:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yup, super-rational. Sounds great, therefore needs no definition.

This is just word games, to avoid recognition that there is no definition possible, thus no agreement.

We don't need to agree, because it's just personal taste, like chocolate or coffee or Limburger cheese.

Morality is built in, and we feed the dog we want to be stronger.

Culture determines morality constructs culture. No gods needed.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 12:35:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No gods needed

There's no need to fabricate gods that don't exist. I agree.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 04:29:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Further to that. This discussion detailed in the wikipedia article also enables the current Pope to say:  `To be anti-Semitic is to be anti-Christian'. Where would that come from, but not from the recognition of a shared past.

I first heard that quoted by Rabbi David Rosen. When he explained to me, why he still trusts the current Pope to still be moderate despite everything.

The problem is, that there is an Inner-Christian, Inner-Semitic, Inner-Religious Dialogue going on, where, if words are being taken out of that context are often being (deliberately?) misunderstood. The reality of reconciliation is a long hard slog. (Ongoing, but easily derailed, but those that gain more from dissent than peace)

by PeWi on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 12:53:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which means that, for most of its history, probably until Vatican II, the Church was anti-Christian. So that modern society should be described as a Judeo-anti-Christian civilization. You can't redefine what a term means now, and continue to use the old meaning for the past. At least one can be anti-Christian without being anti-Jewish, or the Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem would be anti-Jewish.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 01:03:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is a realisation and a recognition of the history of the faith. Yes, to some extent you could read it as Christianity being Anti-Christian, but that is of course a negative reading of the statement. I prefer the positive (and how I think) intended reading of the statement. Which afteral, also needs to be seen in the context of the Holocaust and the Pope's attitude towards that.

All comparisons and metaphors hobble (as we say in German). and you pointed at the short leg. But they have to be seen in their sociological, historical, philosophical context, and not necessarily been seen literal!

Modern Christian Theologian now broadly agree that Jesus has to be seen foremost as a Jew. That recognition and agreement is indeed very recent (last 25 years maybe) This statement alone is very peculiar, but it does show that the justification and thought processes of what is seen as mainstream theological thinking is changing all the time as well.

Btw. It was also interesting and to hear Rabbi Rosen say, that the reflection on Christianity from the side's of the Jew only happened after the contact with Islam. Until then Christians were seen simply as a jewish sect. As indeed there are Jews alive today that have met the Messiah....

by PeWi on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 01:32:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's two parts which I would like to separate: the Pope's statement, and the person making it.  As for the first part if Christianity is really moving to this viewpoint, I can only welcome it, but I would resist the implied rewriting of history that seems to follow.

But as for the Pope who is making the statement, I tend to distrust his sincerity. If being ant-Jewish was really anti-Christian, where are all the excommunications of antisemites? Instead, they excommunicate the mother of a 9-year old rape victim for arranging an abortion for her daughter. I'm afraid the contrast makes all too clear where Ratzinger's priorities lie.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 02:06:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I cannot defend the pope. I am not catholic, so i don't have to either.

I met the Rabbi at a speech he gave jointly with and Professor John Pawlikowski. (this is not the talk I went to, but it was basically the same. (http://glasgowforumoffaiths.org.uk/2010/10/04/%e2%80%98recent-developments-and-new-challenges-in-the -christian-jewish-dialogue%e2%80%99/
I noted that in both their talks about interfaith dialogue, they had praised John Paul the II repeatedly, but neither had mentioned the current one.
It was in that context that Rabbi Rosen used that quote to describe his understanding of Pope Benedict's attitude towards Judaism. Neither defended the Pope in his decision, moreover, there was criticism of the Pope's behaviour with regards to any of the matters you touch on. They saw it as miscommunication and BAD advice. However on a personal level they did not belief, that Benedict was antisemitic.

They drew an interesting parallel / distinction between John Paul and Benedict. John Paul grew up among Jews. He had "practical, first hand involvement" from early on in his youth. Benedict never had - as we all know. Benedict attitude towards Jews and Judaism is purely driven by his ratio (and I am using this term very advisedly here).
And because it is a purely rational approach, that quote is so strong and unexpected. It is one thing for someone to say, Antisemitism is bad. But it is quite another to say: If you hit him, you are actually hitting me as well.'And this to be said by the pope.

The other thing I gained by listening to these men discuss inter faith dialogue, was: They still trusted the Pope despite everything. Not just because the other not so glamourous actions speak as well.
Now Rabbi Rosen is of course a politician as well who is careful with words, what he says, and what he does not say. After all he was (at that point) just about to address of Bishops in Rome.http://tvnz.co.nz/world-news/senior-rabbi-pope-meet-in-vatican-3836122
So, for the bigger picture (but not on an individual level) those things are of more importance, than the sad consequences of listening to bad advice.
Did they think, it had harmed the Jewish Christian Relationship? Yes, but not so much, that they had to be dropped. More that this was a Inner-Christian problem. (And a big one at that.)

by PeWi on Sun Oct 31st, 2010 at 03:28:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is most definitely such a thing as a Judeo-Christian background, a common cultural and historic thread that links Judaism and Christianity.

On what basis does this exclude Islam from that tradition? It's not like there's no Islamic influence in our culture (it would be rather hard to create and sustain industrial civilisation without algebra, to take just one fairly obvious example).

If it is on the basis that there is little demographic overlap for most of our history (this is not strictly speaking true, of course, if you consider the various Orthodox churches part of Christianity - they quite frequently had major Islamic minorities within their turfs, and vice versa), then that would suggest the existence of a Judeo-Islamic civilisation as well, on the basis that most of the Middle East was actually markedly more hospitable less hostile to Jews and Judaism than Europe for most of the history of Islam. This obvious conclusion, curiously enough, is rarely stated in so many words.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:15:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On what basis does this exclude Islam from that tradition?

It does not and I do not.  As I have said before, at their root Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are essentially the same religion.

That said, the term Judeo-Christian refers specifically to the historic and cultural line of development that runs from the ancient faith of Abraham through Jesus of Nazareth to the boisterous family of modern religions that we refer to as Christianity.  There is a similar line of development that runs from Abraham through Mohammed to Islam.  And the two lines, not to mention the three (or more, depending on how you want to count them) modern day branches of that one ancient tree, have cross-fertilized and influenced each other all along the way.  To refer to one specific line of development in no way denies, excludes, or diminishes the other.

We all bleed the same color.

by budr on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 07:24:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And you are absolutely right about the many and profound contributions of Islam to our modern culture.  It was the Islamic world that kept the lamps of learning, of reason and of science, alight when all of Europe went dark.  It saddens me to see those elements of contemporary Islam who seem to want to turn their back on the modern world.  Almost as much as it saddens me to see those in my own country who seem to want to do the same.

We all bleed the same color.
by budr on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 07:46:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On what basis does this exclude Islam from that tradition?

During and before the Eisenhower Presidency, there were sufficiently few Muslims in the USA that they could safely be ignored and prominent Arabs-Americans were likely to be Christians. Jews were another matter and could no longer be ignored.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 08:19:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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