Friday, October 23, 2009

More on the Religious Debate

(fm the BC thread "Two dramas and a third")

Ancestor worship is atheism because theism is the belief in a personal Creator,

Sorry no, this is solipsism. Redefining the terms to win the argument is not a tactic I can support. While one definition of theism is the belief in a personal creator that does not mean that atheism is simply the rejection of that particular belief. We see this debating trick often used as a rhetorical device and it should be challenged.

Your underlaying point is interesting and there are philosophical links between Buddhism, Ethical Culture type New Age quasi religious philosophies and Unitarianism that may leave their adherents more receptive to Socialism then those who adhere to a belief in a personal god. My argument has been that the nature of the deity in Islam is also functionally different than that in Judaism or Christianity.

(fm the BC thread "The lighting of the beacons")

Matt Beck
(who called for censorship by a resurgent christianity)
all this must be committed to the flames

"Dort, wo man B├╝cher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen."
("Where they burn books, they will ultimately also burn people.")
- Heinrich Heine
Regarding the role of religion in Middle Earth.
There had been a formal religious worship, complete with altar, to Eru that was used and later neglected by the King in Numenor. There was no discussion of religious activity by the Men of the West in Middle Earth. Some reference was made to the religious activity by the Southrons and Easterlings who practiced barbaric rites and were steeped in superstition. When Sauron gained power over the King in Numenor he had a temple built to himself and was worshiped as a god.

What religious ritual does is open a channel between mortal humans and immortal ideals. In Middle Earth there were living immortals present who could testify to the reality of the Undying Lands. Given that what would religious activity consist of? For those who deny the testimony of the Elves or who would assert the primacy of the agents of Melkor in this world then rituals to validate another narrative would be needed. Once the last ship had sailed then Western men would need to recreate in ritual the link that had been lost. I am assuming that there was other religious activity regarding occasions like death and marriage that Tolkien glosses over.

Christianity as you say is not of this world and Islam is. Indeed Islam is as materialistic as Marxism. The afterlife is described in detail as an extension of this world. Judaism is in between I think. The focus is on this world and the assumption is that there is a world beyond that we cannot presume to define. The idea is close to Tolkein's I think.

You are perfecting the argument that I was grasping at. The worldly faith systems, Islam and Socialism, in either Red or Green variants, seek to define all knowledge of this world in a closed system. Islam seeks to extend that dominion to a description of the world outside that reduces it to an extension of the material world. That may be a derivation of ancient greek eschatology derived from the Nestorians. Others with more scholarship may elucidate. While Judaism and Christianity have both produced extensive speculation on the nature of eternity those concepts are not essential core beliefs. Dante was vivid but not canonical. God created humanity with the desire to seek wisdom and knowledge, even to the point of rebellion, and a desire for faith. We can only do the best that we can in this world and hope for the next.

For those puzzled by the reference to the Lord of the Rings and Beacons.
And when summoned they came to defend the Tower of the Guard of the West.

Were American public schools really started in opposition to catholicism, specifically?

Look up the Blaine Amendment, a State constitutional effort named for the same bigoted man who gave us the rhetorical gem "Rum Romanism and Rebellion." Blaine Amendments preventing state support for religiously based schools were added in most states. The current opposition to vouchers echoes the 19th century Progressive Movement efforts to build up public education that were rooted establishment Protestant determination to use the schools to americanize immigrant children and keep them out of the parochial schools. The NY Sun ran a series of articles on the subject, just go to their site and do a search. The wiki on this subject seems straight forward and controversy is noted on the talk page.

Oct 24, 2009 - 6:00 am

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