fear of secularism

What do they believe? What do you think? Talk about religion as it exists today.
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stephan happy huller
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fear of secularism

Post by stephan happy huller »

I don't know if it is a sign - and Christianity isn't a monolithic concept in every place - but my sense is, like the healthcare debate in the US (i.e. the universal consensus that the Democratic party now owns the 'health care issue'), as society becomes inevitably secular that atheism will be on trial if there is a general sense that society collapsing without the 'moral guidance' of religion. In other words, in the same way as atheists complain that religion 'caused' war and ignorance, if it turns out (as I suspect) that people will just end up being even dumber in the foreseeable future the same faulty mistaking of cause for consequence will turn around and bite secularism in the ass - i.e. 'losing God' caused us to be even bigger fucking assholes.

I've often wondered in ages past whether people were as 'holy holy' as we like to believe. Yes there were idiots, many idiots who believed for the sake of believing. But I think smart people always had an indifferent attitude toward religion. 'At least it stops the morons from getting together and torching my house, robbing me of my possessions, raping and brutalizing my family etc. with this inherited superstition of guilt and punishment.' That's why everyone put up with religion even if they didn't believe in God or any of the stories of the Bible. It had a practical usefulness which outweighed all the down side (besides you got Xmas too which is the best holiday gift from the twilight of Roman culture).

But in recent years 'usefulness' gave way to 'truthfulness.' None of this stuff true. Okay. But at least it kept people in line. I don't know that Paxil and the like do as good a job.

I still say that when all is said and done:

1) human nature doesn't change
2) human beings are basically bad and stupid and selfish
3) even if this nonsense isn't true it's socially useful (like obeying red lights, stop signs etc)
4) the new table of values will be worse, less effective and more oppressive than the old one

Let's face it. The Romans created Christianity as we know it in the second - fourth centuries. They took a Jewish mystery religion and boiled it down to what was essential and above all else socially useful. The barbarians were civilized by this invention and it's glory was the last five hundred years as we slowly shed its influence. Now we're naked. The only question left is whether technology and pharmaceuticals and the distraction they provide (distraction from the 'yetzer hara') will be more effective at controlling the bad, ignorant human nature that religion is accused of unsuccessfully taming.

The jury is still out on that.
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spin
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Re: fear of secularism

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With an outlook as depressing as the one you've expressed here, Stephan, you make me wonder why you chose to thrust your genes forward. In what era before the present could you have had both the contemplative life and the family life? The contemplative life requires a certain education, not obtainable in the past for someone who needed to support a family. The sort of contemplation you seem to be involved in requires the necessity of such historical events as humanism and the enlightenment, both signs that seem to be contrary to the pessimism you express and their effect was certainly secularizing, separating intellectual activity from religious contemplation. The detrimental effects on human health of the move from hunting and gathering to sedentary agriculture 12,000 years ago were eventually overcome in most western countries by the start of the 20th c. Since then human life expectancy in the west has only improved.

The history of the last few thousand years shows not only a rise of well-being, but also a spread of it through the society. This was not a benefit of religion, but independent of it, a Marxist development in which each lower stratum of the society became aware of a lack it had the "right" to it claimed that right. Serfdom arose out of christian mediaeval Europe and lasted centuries. People were moved out of the uncertainty of life under the Germanic kingdoms to the certainty of servitude. Praise religion. It was a slow slog out of feudalism and it went by collective organization into trades and guilds, land organization, the rise of corporate business interests and the seizing of benefit at every opportunity. In England the barons took power from the king and a parliament of sorts was formed; business interests inveigled their way into parliament and nobles gave way to wealth (with a Charlie losing his head on the way). All the while the western nations were religious states, yet the social changes had nothing to do with religion per se, for religionists opposed religionists in these changes. We can subtract the religion from the conflict and look at the causes in the social sphere.

The French Revolution was an interesting turning point. This was a revolt from below which was made possible only by the enlightenment bringing the awareness that it was not inevitable that people had to live under such conditions while the elite maintained the "let them each brioche" mentality. Its start was a buoy to those who won the American revolution, but its perceived degradation into chaos and brutality through lack of preparation for the change acted as a warning to those same American about the effects of such undirected movements of the people. Marx's reflections on the French Revolution were what led him to the notion of the inevitability of the revolution of the proletariat and the American burgers' reflections led them to distrust any such movements as a threat to society. Hence when trade unions emerged as a response to the exploitation of rapacious American industrialism, the response was swift and incredibly brutal. All good religionists fighting the agents of chaos and evil. The corruption and the destruction of trade unions was another success of capital against the population.

We can see two movements in this brief outline of the history of humanity. The first is the slow improvement of conditions for basically all members of the societies of the west and even that which we today consider poverty is far better off than notions of poverty in centuries past. The second is the manipulation of resources to maintain maximum control over those resources (Marx's means of production) and maximum profits to be gained from them. Whether there was a religion or not, neither movement would be any different. You would still have better conditions generally, while those who control the resources of the society would still have hegemony.

--------------------

This notion of "bad" people is a very religious one and, really, hard for me to fathom. If we remove the god factor, the notion of "bad" people must be questioned, for you can no longer float the notion of evil. People usually act the way the conditions they find themselves in need them to act. Nature provides qualitative and quantitative thought processes (there is no room here for "bad"), while nurture imposes social and interpersonal realities of the context one finds oneself in. Nature also provides aggression, which gets focused depending on the qualitative and quantitative thought processes and the social and interpersonal realities of the context of the individual. Bad doesn't enter into it. Let's remember Hamlet: "for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
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stephan happy huller
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Re: fear of secularism

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Yes I appreciate the time you took to write that rather enlightened response to my five minute comment. You raised a number of points which would take me a great deal of time to write an adequate response. As such, I will go back to my original point and try to answer the general sense of what your wrote - mostly for my own amusement.

I've been without a child for some time. It wasn't like I was raised in the southern United States and got married or had a baby from a moment of passion when I hit puberty. I view the time before I had a child as a kind of narcissistic intoxication - not because having children has any intrinsic value in itself but rather because I can't actually devote any time to myself. I used to like making myself attractive. I enjoyed flirting and what the French call la folie d'amour.

I think religion is often taken too seriously in a public setting. It's like having dinner with a beautiful woman. It's pointless but it can be beautiful. I could tell so many stories, so many pictures. If you can just hold off being in your own skin for just a moment - you can have quite a happy life, and death. I think its about curbing wanting and desire but not by whipping yourself in the manner of Catholics and Shiites. I am talking about a delightfully pleasant way. I was always struck by the story of Petronius's suicide. It is said he was in the baths this arbiter of elegance with his wrists slit, when the conversation was getting more interesting he would close the wound. Then by the end he opened them up again before he died. That's life. Quite a story.
Last edited by stephan happy huller on Thu Oct 24, 2013 12:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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spin
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Re: fear of secularism

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You've reminded me of a scene from Fellini's Satyricon, close to the beginning where the protagonist is walking along an internal colonnade that passed rooms in a huge building and in each room there is a separate scene, a sort of tableau of life in the space, prostitutes, families, all sorts of other relationships living in the building in no precise order. It was a cross section of life evoked. Flitting from paragraph to paragraph is a little like passing from room to room. But I guess the total image is a little more coherent than the one offered by Fellini. It's not just a series of observations, there is a thread running through them. It's like you have a computer game of snippets from your life and you are navigating through with a joystick and you have your hand a little too heavily on the joystick.

I find it difficult to see the close relationship with your previous post and nor can I see one with the post you are responding to, though I note that you acknowledged a divergence from my post. Some of the information is indistinct. You have shown a connection with a young child and you avatar shows a young child. Yet you say, "I've been without a child for some time." And Jethro Tull comes to mind singing "Living in the Past" (great piece in 5/4).

I can't see why you felt it necessary to go into detail about lost opportunities with the ones that got away. It's as though there is some closet disappointment in your marital choice and how the fuck do I end up there? There's a record that seems stuck in one of those rooms in your head. It's in a minor key and it makes you reach for a metaphorical glass of oblivion. Absinthe makes the heart grow number (parse that as a comparative).

You begin to come around to something vaguely connected with what you said in the first post later on in your response.

(Thinking is relatively simple, as is objectivity. All you have to do is stop yourself from throwing up impediments and thinking basically does it all by itself. What is more difficult is analysis of the data that you end up using in the thinking process. Crap data give crap results. GIGO. Our babes have mainly missed out on this. It's not about data at all for them. Data is merely a complication. But it is the eureka of understanding what the data can lead you to that is exciting.

An example: when I found a reference in Malalas to a connection between people from Kition in Cyprus to the foundation of Antioch on the Orontes, I knew that DSS scholarship is so fucked in its understanding of the Kittim. I don't care that the industry has sold its soul for the Kittim = Romans equation. I already knew that Menelaus, who became high priest after Jason, had the support of Cypriot troops (2 Macc 4:29) from Antioch. The Kittim are not Romans, they're, wait for it, they're Kittim, really Kittim and it is the era of Antiochus IV, not VII. Data is where the work is done. When you can transform data into significance, into evidence, then the argument follows. And if I fuck up the data, the argument becomes insignificant.)


But then you wander off again. Shots at stupid white people. Kebra Nagast. Petronius opening his veins. We are back to the rooms we passed earlier, someone is cooking, another beating someone, another making love.


Long-Legged Fly

THAT civilisation may not sink,
Its great battle lost,
Quiet the dog, tether the pony
To a distant post;
Our master Caesar is in the tent
Where the maps ate spread,
His eyes fixed upon nothing,
A hand under his head.

Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
His mind moves upon silence.

That the topless towers be burnt
And men recall that face,
Move most gently if move you must
In this lonely place.
She thinks, part woman, three parts a child,
That nobody looks; her feet
Practise a tinker shuffle
Picked up on a street.

Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
Her mind moves upon silence.

That girls at puberty may find
The first Adam in their thought,
Shut the door of the Pope's chapel,
Keep those children out.
There on that scaffolding reclines
Michael Angelo.
With no more sound than the mice make
His hand moves to and fro.

Like a long-leggedfly upon the stream
His mind moves upon silence.

- William Butler Yeats
Dysexlia lures • ⅔ of what we see is behind our eyes
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stephan happy huller
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Re: fear of secularism

Post by stephan happy huller »

Did you know that the Satyricon was my favorite movie from when I was like 18. My point was that the only thing that makes life interesting for most people is the barrier that is placed between them and what they want. If you can get what you want. Life is pointless.
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