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BS: Another View of Religion

Joe Offer 17 Mar 11 - 05:35 PM
Wesley S 17 Mar 11 - 05:40 PM
Joe Offer 17 Mar 11 - 05:49 PM
Dorothy Parshall 17 Mar 11 - 06:05 PM
Little Hawk 17 Mar 11 - 06:11 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Mar 11 - 06:15 PM
DMcG 17 Mar 11 - 06:26 PM
Deckman 17 Mar 11 - 06:28 PM
Art Thieme 17 Mar 11 - 06:29 PM
Little Hawk 17 Mar 11 - 06:31 PM
Little Hawk 17 Mar 11 - 06:35 PM
GUEST,Eliza 17 Mar 11 - 06:36 PM
Little Hawk 17 Mar 11 - 07:16 PM
olddude 17 Mar 11 - 07:30 PM
GUEST,Eliza 17 Mar 11 - 07:33 PM
GUEST,999 17 Mar 11 - 07:36 PM
GUEST,mauvepink 17 Mar 11 - 07:41 PM
GUEST,Paul Burke 17 Mar 11 - 08:08 PM
mauvepink 17 Mar 11 - 08:23 PM
Wesley S 17 Mar 11 - 08:35 PM
Amos 17 Mar 11 - 09:36 PM
Steve Shaw 17 Mar 11 - 09:53 PM
Ebbie 18 Mar 11 - 02:12 AM
Joe Offer 18 Mar 11 - 04:18 AM
GUEST,Patsy 18 Mar 11 - 04:29 AM
Will Fly 18 Mar 11 - 04:58 AM
VirginiaTam 18 Mar 11 - 05:08 AM
GUEST,lively 18 Mar 11 - 05:10 AM
Joe Offer 18 Mar 11 - 05:22 AM
GUEST,lively 18 Mar 11 - 05:29 AM
Joe Offer 18 Mar 11 - 05:48 AM
GUEST,lively 18 Mar 11 - 05:58 AM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Mar 11 - 06:10 AM
GUEST,lively 18 Mar 11 - 06:22 AM
GUEST,John MacKenzie 18 Mar 11 - 06:24 AM
Georgiansilver 18 Mar 11 - 06:28 AM
GUEST,lively 18 Mar 11 - 06:31 AM
GUEST,lively 18 Mar 11 - 06:33 AM
Will Fly 18 Mar 11 - 06:43 AM
bbc 18 Mar 11 - 06:52 AM
Georgiansilver 18 Mar 11 - 06:59 AM
Keith A of Hertford 18 Mar 11 - 07:07 AM
Will Fly 18 Mar 11 - 07:20 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 18 Mar 11 - 07:22 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 18 Mar 11 - 07:25 AM
GUEST,lively 18 Mar 11 - 07:26 AM
GUEST,lively 18 Mar 11 - 07:30 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 18 Mar 11 - 08:27 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 18 Mar 11 - 08:35 AM
Steve Shaw 18 Mar 11 - 08:51 AM
Keith A of Hertford 18 Mar 11 - 08:53 AM
Will Fly 18 Mar 11 - 09:08 AM
Steve Shaw 18 Mar 11 - 09:10 AM
Will Fly 18 Mar 11 - 09:16 AM
Will Fly 18 Mar 11 - 09:19 AM
Greg F. 18 Mar 11 - 10:00 AM
GUEST,lively 18 Mar 11 - 10:13 AM
olddude 18 Mar 11 - 10:20 AM
Steve Shaw 18 Mar 11 - 10:45 AM
Joe Offer 18 Mar 11 - 11:08 AM
Ebbie 18 Mar 11 - 11:24 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 18 Mar 11 - 11:37 AM
GUEST,lively 18 Mar 11 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 18 Mar 11 - 11:42 AM
Ebbie 18 Mar 11 - 11:48 AM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Mar 11 - 12:47 PM
Dave MacKenzie 18 Mar 11 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,lively 18 Mar 11 - 01:01 PM
Will Fly 18 Mar 11 - 01:04 PM
Amos 18 Mar 11 - 01:09 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Mar 11 - 01:11 PM
Will Fly 18 Mar 11 - 01:20 PM
Will Fly 18 Mar 11 - 01:25 PM
Steve Shaw 18 Mar 11 - 01:54 PM
PoppaGator 18 Mar 11 - 04:54 PM
GUEST 18 Mar 11 - 05:07 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Mar 11 - 06:12 PM
Bill D 18 Mar 11 - 07:57 PM
Steve Shaw 18 Mar 11 - 09:47 PM
andrew e 18 Mar 11 - 11:41 PM
Little Hawk 19 Mar 11 - 12:46 AM
MGM·Lion 19 Mar 11 - 02:18 AM
Joe Offer 19 Mar 11 - 02:39 AM
Joe Offer 19 Mar 11 - 03:27 AM
GUEST,John MacKenzie 19 Mar 11 - 05:03 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 19 Mar 11 - 05:44 AM
MGM·Lion 19 Mar 11 - 08:25 AM
Joe Offer 19 Mar 11 - 09:00 AM
GUEST,John MacKenzie 19 Mar 11 - 09:13 AM
olddude 19 Mar 11 - 09:21 AM
Joe Offer 19 Mar 11 - 12:11 PM
Little Hawk 19 Mar 11 - 12:53 PM
Stringsinger 19 Mar 11 - 01:00 PM
Little Hawk 19 Mar 11 - 01:09 PM
Stringsinger 19 Mar 11 - 01:33 PM
Joe Offer 19 Mar 11 - 01:41 PM
Bill D 19 Mar 11 - 01:46 PM
Bill D 19 Mar 11 - 01:55 PM
GUEST,lively 19 Mar 11 - 02:01 PM
Steve Shaw 19 Mar 11 - 02:04 PM
Stringsinger 19 Mar 11 - 02:15 PM
Ebbie 19 Mar 11 - 03:22 PM
Little Hawk 19 Mar 11 - 03:28 PM
MGM·Lion 19 Mar 11 - 03:42 PM
Little Hawk 19 Mar 11 - 04:20 PM
DMcG 19 Mar 11 - 05:14 PM
Art Thieme 19 Mar 11 - 05:22 PM
Art Thieme 19 Mar 11 - 05:35 PM
The Fooles Troupe 19 Mar 11 - 05:43 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 19 Mar 11 - 06:46 PM
Little Hawk 19 Mar 11 - 06:52 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 19 Mar 11 - 07:48 PM
Steve Shaw 19 Mar 11 - 09:08 PM
Steve Shaw 19 Mar 11 - 09:15 PM
Little Hawk 19 Mar 11 - 10:29 PM
Joe Offer 20 Mar 11 - 04:00 AM
Steve Shaw 20 Mar 11 - 07:36 AM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Mar 11 - 08:15 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 20 Mar 11 - 09:01 AM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Mar 11 - 09:19 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 20 Mar 11 - 09:24 AM
Little Hawk 20 Mar 11 - 09:30 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 20 Mar 11 - 09:44 AM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Mar 11 - 09:55 AM
Little Hawk 20 Mar 11 - 10:12 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 20 Mar 11 - 11:24 AM
Dave MacKenzie 20 Mar 11 - 11:51 AM
Little Hawk 20 Mar 11 - 11:52 AM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Mar 11 - 12:22 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 20 Mar 11 - 12:50 PM
GUEST,Eliza 20 Mar 11 - 01:07 PM
Lighter 20 Mar 11 - 01:54 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 20 Mar 11 - 02:08 PM
The Fooles Troupe 20 Mar 11 - 07:30 PM
Bill D 20 Mar 11 - 08:41 PM
The Fooles Troupe 20 Mar 11 - 08:48 PM
Little Hawk 20 Mar 11 - 09:15 PM
MGM·Lion 21 Mar 11 - 12:38 AM
Little Hawk 21 Mar 11 - 12:44 AM
MGM·Lion 21 Mar 11 - 12:56 AM
ollaimh 21 Mar 11 - 01:07 AM
Janie 21 Mar 11 - 01:20 AM
Little Hawk 21 Mar 11 - 01:31 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Mar 11 - 05:02 AM
Dave MacKenzie 21 Mar 11 - 05:56 AM
GUEST,Patsy 21 Mar 11 - 09:11 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 21 Mar 11 - 10:12 AM
freda underhill 21 Mar 11 - 10:30 AM
freda underhill 21 Mar 11 - 10:42 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 21 Mar 11 - 12:11 PM
Little Hawk 21 Mar 11 - 01:02 PM
freda underhill 21 Mar 11 - 06:52 PM
Joe Offer 22 Mar 11 - 04:30 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 22 Mar 11 - 07:36 AM
freda underhill 22 Mar 11 - 08:00 AM
Ed T 22 Mar 11 - 03:57 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Mar 11 - 06:11 PM
DMcG 22 Mar 11 - 07:00 PM
Little Hawk 23 Mar 11 - 01:24 AM
Joe Offer 23 Mar 11 - 02:29 AM
GUEST,Patsy 23 Mar 11 - 09:00 AM
Bill D 23 Mar 11 - 01:08 PM
GUEST,Eliza 23 Mar 11 - 02:57 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Mar 11 - 05:14 PM
GUEST,Eliza 23 Mar 11 - 05:31 PM
Greg F. 23 Mar 11 - 05:52 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Mar 11 - 06:35 PM
Little Hawk 23 Mar 11 - 07:48 PM
Joe Offer 24 Mar 11 - 01:53 AM
GUEST,Patsy 24 Mar 11 - 07:14 AM
Little Hawk 24 Mar 11 - 01:36 PM
Jim Carroll 24 Mar 11 - 04:03 PM
Little Hawk 24 Mar 11 - 04:34 PM
Wesley S 24 Mar 11 - 05:17 PM
Little Hawk 24 Mar 11 - 06:18 PM
The Fooles Troupe 24 Mar 11 - 08:19 PM
Little Hawk 24 Mar 11 - 08:22 PM
Joe Offer 25 Mar 11 - 01:27 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Mar 11 - 04:07 AM
Joe Offer 25 Mar 11 - 04:21 AM
Ebbie 25 Mar 11 - 02:59 PM
Little Hawk 25 Mar 11 - 04:48 PM
Dave MacKenzie 25 Mar 11 - 04:53 PM
Ed T 25 Mar 11 - 05:40 PM
Crowhugger 25 Mar 11 - 05:41 PM
Ed T 25 Mar 11 - 06:04 PM
Steve Shaw 25 Mar 11 - 09:23 PM
Jim Carroll 26 Mar 11 - 04:23 AM
Little Hawk 26 Mar 11 - 01:01 PM
Amos 30 Mar 11 - 08:20 PM
Joe Offer 31 Mar 11 - 09:07 PM

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Subject: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 05:35 PM

It seems like every Mudcat thread that mentions religion, turns into a battle between people whose definition of religion is completely foreign to the religion I practice - but yet the dominant parties seem to assume that since I'm a religious person, I MUST fit their definitions.

We do have a few conservative Christian Mudcatters. Some are gentle and sincere, and I sympathize with them although I cannot say I share their beliefs. Some are closer to the stereotype and are very aggressive and argumentative, and I can't say I have much sympathy for them.

We have a few Catholics at Mudcat, but I don't think we have very many active Catholics. We have at least one Catholic who seems very traditional, but isn't very happy with the Catholic Church. Most of the Catholics at Mudcat seem to be moderate to progressive. I suppose I'm the most active Catholic here. I think of myself as moderate to progressive, but I suppose that conservative Catholics think of me as a horribly liberal heretic - which I'm not.

I also suppose that some non-Catholic Mudcatters think of me as horribly conservative and rigidly doctrinaire and in lockstep with the pope - which I'm not. These Mudcatters seem to assume I support the molestation of children and protection of child molesters and killing of abortion doctors and denigrating homosexuals. They seem to think I'm responsible for the Spanish Inquisition (or at least that I support it wholeheartedly), and that I'm responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa because of course I don't believe in condoms.

And I want to shout

Wait! I'm not like that at all.



Very often, my thinking is very close to the thinking of the progressive nonbelievers who think I'm horrible for being Catholic - except that I add a religious perspective to my thinking. And so when I get accused of supporting child abuse and the killing of abortion doctors and the Inquisition, I want to scream that it's just not fair to pigeonhole me that way, because I'm not like that at all.

I'm an open-minded person, willing to consider just about any perspective. I'm open to all religious creeds and to the lack of a creed, and I've learned from all of those perspectives. I'm a pacifist, although I am well aware that I cannot come up with an ironclad defense of my pacifism. I oppose the death penalty, but I can understand the outrage that drives many people to demand capital punishment for some crimes. I'm an associate member of the Sisters of Mercy (yes, they allow men); but I acknowledge that some of our sisters ran schools in Ireland where children were abused, and that there have been nuns in the US who were harsh and abusive in Catholic schools. I spent eight years in a Catholic seminary and I knew some seminarians who ended up molesting children as priests - but I do not condone, excuse, or deny the molestation of children by priests.

I'm Catholic, and I don't see abortion as a good thing. I think that the loss of a fetus is a cause for mourning, even if that loss was necessary. I hope women choose other alternatives, but I see that choice as their right. I do NOT see opposition to abortion as a central aspect of my relationship with God, and I wouldn't dream of campaigning against abortion or of supporting laws that prohibit abortion. I know very few priests and nuns who actively campaign against abortion - most are more concerned with healing, rather than prohibition.

Yes, I see a moral aspect to religion. Religious people should speak out against injustice when they see it, but they should keep their noses out of other people's bedrooms.

I see the hand of God in the wonderful, miraculous natural process called evolution. If others don't see God in that, that's OK with me. I see the creation stories of Genesis and the creation stories of other cultures as wonderful allegories - not as scientific fact.

I support organizations such as faithfulamerica.org/, which advocates universal health care, solidarity with union workers in state government, and the resignation of Glenn Beck - among other things. Another organization I support is Sojourners, which has a similar perspective.

I read America Magazine from the Jesuits and the National Catholic Reporter, two periodicals that are very blunt and honest in their regular criticism of the leadership of the Catholic Church.

I don't see doctrine or obedience as primary aspects of my faith. My faith is part of who I am, not what somebody else tells me to be. I find doctrine to be a useful framework for a faith relationship with God; but relationship, not doctrine, is the essence of my faith.

Yes, I do experience what I see as the presence of God in my life, mostly in the love I share with people and the beauty I see in the universe. But don't ask me to defend or explain what I experience, because I can't. And don't denigrate my experience by using dismissive, insulting terms like "imaginary friend." I pray more than once a day - usually, my prayer consists of simply stopping to enjoy the presence of God. I suppose you could define God as "goodness" - but God is more than that to me. God is the essence of the goodness that surrounds me - but more than that.

I've been a teacher of religion since 1966. I teach when people ask me to teach, but I've never been one to proselytize. If people see me as a person of integrity and they see that my faith makes sense, then they can ask and I'll do my best to give them answers, but I've never believed in recruiting converts.

I am who I am, not who you think me to be. Judge me by what you see and hear, not by your expectations of me.

It pains me to see the general flow of religious discussions at Mudcat, because so many Mudcatters can only see religion as doctrinaire, rigid, mind-controlling, and intolerant. Yes, all those things do exist in religion; but they are most often the very evident exception rather than the rule. I've attended services and had extensive discussions with people of many faiths, and I have found rigid intolerance among them only rarely. I have my disagreements with evangelical Christians, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Seventh-Day Adventists, but I've also found a lot of good among these groups. The religious groups I'm more comfortable with are more progressive - Unitarians, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Congregationalists, some Presbyterians, Methodists, the Unity churches, Jews, and Orthodox Christians.

So, when you are tempted to put me in a pigeonhole and define what I think and do before I have a chance to do it myself, consider this:

Wait! I'm not like that at all.



-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Wesley S
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 05:40 PM

Well written Joe. But I'm afraid your words will fall on deaf ears. Let's hope not.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 05:49 PM

I guess I don't understand the dynamic of the religion threads. Mudcatters in general seem so nice, so intelligent, so tolerant. Why is it that in the sphere of religious belief, so many Mudcatters so vehemently exclude people who don't fit their narrow definition of "correct" ideology? Why is it that they claim to promote tolerance, but can't accept people who don't think exactly the same way they do?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 06:05 PM

That is wonderful good, Joe!

As for the lack of tolerance among mudcatters. They are human? They love to argue and foment trouble?

I'll bet you have read the book: You Don't Have to be Wrong for Me to Be Right, by an orthodox rabbi - Hirschfield. It speaks to our condition. The author is doing great work in the field of conciliation.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 06:11 PM

I think, Joe, that it is simply because of how the human ego usually works in people. It vigorously defends its own identity at all times. It views beliefs which are different from its own as a potential threat.

And...it also searches hungrily for someone to feel superior to and to hold in contempt or to laugh at....as that, again, seems to bolster its own sense of identity.

That's the negative side of ego, and it's very common. For most people there are few aspects of their own identity which go much deeper than their beliefs about religion, national identity, and politics. You could call it "tribal consciousness", and it works just as it did 20,000 years ago, long before the rise of modern nation-states. The tribal mentality defends the home turf (mental or physical home turf), defends the familiar, fears the unfamiliar or the foreign, and prepares for a probable fight whenever it encounters them.

You get two tribal mentalities colliding with each other...they react negatively to each other...those reactions trigger further counterreactions...and you have the typical argument that erupts on those threads.

This will not, by the way, prevent them from both thinking they are eminently logical, reasonable, and rational....while their opponent is not. That's a standard assumption of every insecure ego that's ever existed. Logic always supports itself...within a closed circuit...but how large is that circuit? That's the question. ;-)

Who is willing to be tolerant of different beliefs? Someone who isn't afraid, that's who.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 06:15 PM

Most people steer clear of those threads, because they do tend to turn nasty. It doesn't take many people to turn a thread nasty, and it can be done from any direction. But I don't actually think it's a matter of
"so many Mudcatters".

The pity is that too often threads that could be an opportunity to explore issues on which people disagree, are turned into undignified and unpleasant squabbles.

I've sometimes wondered whether some people have absorbed an assumption that strong beliefes need to be expressed in an aggressive way in order to be counted as sincere. Which is nonsense.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: DMcG
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 06:26 PM

I suppose I should rise to the challenge and 'come out' as an active, practicing, Roman Catholic. I would consider myself towards the progressive wing as well and, thinking back over the comments from Joe over the years, I can't recall anything of substance I have disagreed with.

I am also a scientist by training and inclination and, while the two are not always easy companions, it is usually because I have had an over-simplified understanding of both.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Deckman
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 06:28 PM

Hmmm ... Joe, I NEVER thought that YOU, of all people, would start a thread on "religion." You've explained some of the delemmas well, and described some of the issues well.

My views on religion ... which are NO ONES BUSINESS BUT MY OWN ... can best said as: "Religion is it's own reward." best wishes ... bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Art Thieme
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 06:29 PM

Joe,
That is you all the way. And I think it's the reason I like you so much even while never having had the pleasure of meeting you in person. --- These attitudes you exhibit are how Carol and I stayed in love through the years---as different as we both are.

Thanks for showing us part of your heart!

Art


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 06:31 PM

Well, there are many aspects of both (your science and your religion) that you find agreeable, useful, and harmonious, correct?

And why should anyone have trouble grasping that? (unless he imagines that you MUST automatically be for every single thing he doesn't like about either science or religion)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 06:35 PM

Everything people do is its own reward. (from the point of view of he who is doing it)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 06:36 PM

There does seem to be an inordinate amount of anger and rage expressed by some posters on religious issues. It's difficult to understand why they are so angry, and why they need to state their views in such an insulting and abusive fashion. After all, an opposing view is interesting and stimulating, and can be a starting point for some great ideas and insights. One can only progress in reconciliation and sympathy if one has respect for another's views. My husband is a Muslim and I'm a practising Christian, but we live in perfect harmony and respect. We find eachother's faiths very interesting, and have learnt a lot, without compromising our beliefs.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 07:16 PM

Exellent, Eliza. I find all religions interesting, I respect the fact that they each grew out of a specific culture in a specific time...that they have probably changed quite a bit since that time...and I enjoy finding out more about them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: olddude
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 07:30 PM

Well said my friend


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 07:33 PM

So do I, Little Hawk. Humankind is infinitely fascinating. I have visited mosques, synagogues,cathedrals, temples, etc and watched festivals of all kinds in many countries. I've never felt angry or disturbed by what I've witnessed, just privileged to have the chance to enjoy my fellows' enthusiasm and sincerity. (Actually, I'm also a very nosey lady, and always want to see for myself what goes on in the world!)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,999
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 07:36 PM

Good post, Joe. Nothing less than folks would expect from you.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,mauvepink
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 07:41 PM

Joe... well posted. Honest and brave I think. Thanks for taking the time to write it but, to be honest, it's not far from the view I had of you already.

Who is willing to be tolerant of different beliefs? Someone who isn't afraid, that's who. . Fair comment LH

The same is true of so so many things. Sexuality, politics, race, religion or non-religion. People secure in who and what they are very rarely have to lash out. This does not mean they cannot be good communicators and have opposing views. Rather they will meter their responses and replies in a respectful and courteous way. Swearing and name calling seldom calms things down in any discussion/debate. I don't recall ever seeing a profanity or insult issuing from Joe's and many other's keyboards on here.

I certainly do not agree with all that you write and believe Joe. I know the same probably exists vice versa, but does it matter? Having opposing views is not an act of war as some seem to think it need become. There are worse things to be called than 'liberal' for sure and having faith, in any religion (or not) should not be a reason to enough to persecute or insult anyone. We all have belief's, I would hope, in some thing or other.

In general I stay on Mudcat for the music threads. I tend to post the most in BS though. I like intelligent and interesting interactions, whether written or verbal, that stay on the fair side of things. It's not always possible to be able to post without someone having a go at you but, in general, most people here do get along. That is what has to count in the end I think

mp


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 08:08 PM

I've largely withdrawn from this sort of stuff, because there's no resolution, and I once had a near-life experience. But I really think Joe is missing the point.

He ain't like that.

The others are.

It seems to me that the problem isn't WHAT you believe, but HOW STRONGLY you believe it. The vast majority of religious people I've known- of many religions- have appeared to share the same core valuation of the importance of loving other human beings, and have been prepared to place that valuation above the strict requirements of thir own nominal affiliations. Some more enthusiastically than others.

The trouble starts when someone isn't prepared to do that. Like insisting that because your sect doesn't like abortions, those of other sects can not have abortions. Or that it's OK to attack men without beards or with beards. Or that children must have daily christian worship in schools (that's UK law). Or that a 600 year old temple should be destroyed because there was a different temple there 601 years ago. Or that one lot of Semites must be removed to make way for another lot of Semites.

Sexuality? History? Science? Personal freedom of belief?

Examine the history of those of your own persuasion on any point of potential conflict. If you do it honestly, you will find that those of your belief come up short.

Whatever you believe.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: mauvepink
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 08:23 PM

I think I understand what you are saying Paul. That just because we have a belief in something we may be tarred by our forebears or even our own actions in towing the party line instead of the free thought we are given?

Some things are certainly pretty set in my mind, I confess, but I am never feared of dancing to a different beat if the music is appealing. I like to keep options open and not slam doors behind me. I suppose a lot of belief comes down to appeal in the end and not just dogma and what has been handed down to us.

Being able to think outside of the box, from inside the box, is hard... but a lot do it. I aspire to. I think Joe does. No sense in reaching a horizon when all you see is another horizon facing you unless you really want to explore I suppose. We may not always like what we find but then there can be as much beauty in moving on as there is in staying put.

I still have the child-like facination that keeps me seeking new things and answers. Some answers I think I know now... but some answers just open more questions. All this said, some things within me I know to be immutible. Some I like, some I don't... I'm human... I think!

mp


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Wesley S
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 08:35 PM

18 posts. I thought we'd make it all the way to 25.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Amos
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 09:36 PM

Joe:

I think there's another element at play that produces the kind of sparks you so justifiably protest. Two, actually.

1. There is always a good amount of ham-handed miseducation going on in children's lives when adults try to tell them things metaphorical in un-nuanced concrete terms "God is watching you so be good...". So they imagine angels, divine oversight, and the consequences of bad karmic choices in vivid but inaccurate images and then wonder why things don't work that way. The side-effect of bad education is for the trusting student to feel betrayed.

2. At the same time, spiritual discussions resonate deeply with an individual's most intimate sense of life, and when someone inadvertently treads on those feelings, explosions of unexpected degrees of vehemence can ensue.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 09:53 PM

Hello (he said, sneaking in hoping not to get noticed...) Well, Joe, I agree with almost everything you said in that original post, though I think you're seriously wrong about God's hand in evolution and I could give you a constructive fight over that any time...

Just to straighten a couple of things out here. I can't speak for any atheist other than myself (when I've been bold enough to try that I've been shouted down, so I won't try again). First, any atheist worth his or her salt will always cheerfully acknowledge the right of anyone to follow and practise any creed they like. Yes, Stalin and Mao were atheists but they were most decidedly not my kind of atheist because they were intolerant of beliefs other than their own. Second, any atheist worth his or her salt will cheerfully acknowledge that many people of religion have been inspired by their faith to do wonderful work. I've often said that we atheists are such a disparate bunch that we never get our act together in this regard anything like as well as believers do. Third, there is, to any atheist worth his or her salt, a very sharp faultline between what individuals of faith get up to and what big organised religion gets up to. It is perfectly possible to see the validity of the one and completely reject it in the other.

What causes the worst arguments, by and large, is when people professing to be atheists, but who have so far failed to articulate the reason for their atheism, clash with believers who are so soaked in certainty about their faith that they think nothing of declaring that certainty to the world at large. I have standards to which I think all so-called atheists should be held, and the cardinal one is that no atheist should ever declare that they are certain there is no God. It simply is not possible to hold to that position. Even Dawkins will tell you that. We can point to the lack of evidence for God and the fact that he breaks all the rules of nature, etc., but none of that is "proof" he does not exist. But I feel that believers must also accept that there can be no certainty, and with that acceptance comes a certain humility that many atheists don't see in believers and which causes so much of the friction. It's very hard to take for an atheist when someone starts a thread "asking for prayers..." on a forum that they well know contains non-believers. We're fairly broad-minded, but that is an insult. There's no reason why you couldn't just ask for kind thoughts, is there. The ethos for believers should be that such thoughts can be kept private and between people who feel the same way, out of respect for non-believers. Doing it the other way implies a disrespect if you think about it, even a degree of arrogance, though most good atheists are pretty tolerant of that stuff.

The big battles are caused when people breach the aforementioned unspoken rules. No believer is an idiot for believing, though many are all too happy to be so certain that they have the one and only valid story that they are happy to attack those who are at variance with them. No atheist is an idiot for not believing, though it is a huge mistake to offend individuals on the grounds of their beliefs alone. Attacking organised religion is an entirely different matter, and I think that more they are challenged, right down to the core, the healthier it is. Of course, some people don't like that. Tough. And we atheists have it tough too, remember, in world which has religion at its core by default.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Ebbie
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 02:12 AM

Joe, tell your wife that Ebbie loves you. :)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 04:18 AM

Can I tell my wife that I love Ebbie? ;-)

One thing I really crave is rich discussion. It's nice to talk with people who share my thinking, but it's not often that it's rich. It's difficult to talk with people who attack my ideas, because that puts me in a defensive mode.

What's wonderful is when I'm with people who also want to exchange differing ideas. THAT'S when discussion can be rich. And this thread has been very rich so far. Thank you all very much. That's why I like you so much.

And Ebbie, my wife thinks it's wonderful that I love so many women, including you.

-Joe Offer-

P.S. So often, there are atheists in the forum who say something and expect me to disagree with them. And I want to say, "Wait, wait - that's exactly the way I see it. Don't shut me out because I wear the label of 'Catholic!' I agree with you."


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Patsy
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 04:29 AM

I like interesting discussions about religion because it is an interesting topic and I get so disappointed when it becomes angry and insulting to whoever.

As a child once said to me 'why can't people just be nice' I agree with that.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 04:58 AM

Joe, one of the reasons that I never post on threads relating to religion is because either they do turn into mudslinging after a while, or they just degenerate into the usual opposing and intransigent points of view - with never a resolution in sight. Not that I'm naive enough to expect a resolution, but it would be interesting, occasionally, to see some common ground agreed on.

I also never post because I'm an atheist. I've been an atheist since my very early teens (well over 50 years ago) on grounds which - to me - were and are still logical and reasoned. Those grounds are usually anathema to people with religious faith and there's little point in arguing over them. I'm not a militant atheist but I'm genuinely dismayed when I read about - for example - creationists' who are convinced that the earth is 6,000 years old and that dinosaur fossils were put here to "test us". I'm further dismayed when I read that (for example) a schoolteacher holding those beliefs is allowed to teach in a well-known and highly-rated school in England.

Unfortunately, I'm also persuaded that arguments using logic, reason, scientific evidence, etc. are also wasted on such people. And that's why I simply - and more usually - stay mute on Mudcat when it comes to religious matters.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 05:08 AM

I have never been able to come to terms with the concept of an all knowing, all powerful being permitting such destruction of and suffering in what s/he has created.

I have never been able to come to terms to with the concept of free will, especially upon seeing how easy it is for individuals to be subsumed into a mob. It is built into us to want to belong, because as a matter of protection we needed to belong.

While I find there is much that is reprehensible in many religions (let's face it - religion is just a vehicle of belonging) I also find much that is good and beautiful. But that is not enough for me to deny what my head and heart tell me. Which is to be wary. To not let anyone do your thinking or feeling for you.

For these reasons, I don't believe in god and definitely do not adhere to religion.

But this is just me. Not my place to tell anyone else what or how they should think, feel or believe.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 05:10 AM

'i feel that believers should also accept that there is no certainty' steve shaw. Thats an interesting position to take, because it demands the rejection of a fundamental premise held my many / most? believers of certainty in god through 'faith'. Its not too far from saying that you feel that believers shouldn't believe what they believe but they should believe what you believe.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 05:22 AM

OK, we're up to 28 posts, and every single post is valuable and positive and respectful. Seems to me that the atheists may have thought their opinion is not valued by people of faith. I would like to believe that at Mudcat, every opinion is valued - and I mean honestly valued. Is that possible?

Maybe we merely assume that our own opinion is rejected by other people. Maybe they think better of us, than we think of ourselves?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 05:29 AM

'when someone starts a thread asking for prayers... That is an insult' steve shaw. If a person believes in the power of prayer, and that is what they want, then they are entitled to ask for it. If as an atheist you are unable to provide what has been requested, then you can offer what you are able to provide. I think there have been requests for financial support on this forum, should people unable to offer any financial support feel insulted by the request?


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 05:48 AM

About 18 months ago, Barack Obama gave a profound (and controversial) commencement address at Notre Dame University [(click)]. In his speech, he said that there is always an element of doubt in faith. I'd agree. If we don't have at least some doubt about what we believe, our belief is not honest.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 05:58 AM

'our belief is not honest'. Interesting that you rephrase your belief as 'our belief'. you are entitled to hold your belief, but it is a personal belief and others who do not share it are entitled to their unshakable faith without you demanding they accept your 'doubt' as a part of their beliefs. Im not religious by the way, but i don't believe in imposing my beliefs on others.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 06:10 AM

"Unshakeable faith" is in no way inconsistent with an element of doubt. That is as true when it comes to faith in religion as it is to faith in other people.

Perhaps it can sometimes be more helpful to use the word "trust" instead.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 06:22 AM

fair point. 'Not necessarilly inconsistant' however is a very different statement to claiming that anothers faith is necessarlly 'dishonest' if they do not share my doubt. I find it highly presumptious to impose the conditions i hold important for my own beliefs, upon another.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,John MacKenzie
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 06:24 AM

I'm not intolerant of religion or religious views, just don't understand them.
Mind you, getting someone to believe in something they can't see, is a neat trick.
Don't get me wrong, (unless you want to) I admire many christian people, and yes that's with a small c, as it's an attitude of mind to be admired, even if the belief is improbable.
Watched part of a programme last night about 2 families, thrown out of the Amish sect, for "Transgressions", and was disgusted by the fact that they are given a bible in a Germanic language that they can't read, and forbidden to read it in English. I thought that was sorted out long time ago.
They joined another church, that believed if mould grew in your house after it had been shut up for a certain number of days, you had to demolish the house, burn the bits, and start again.
Don't get me started on the religions where women are treated as goods and chattels, and definitely second-class citizens!
So many people seem to say they have "found" religion, like they'd found a dollar bill. Often to people like that, religion is like a crutch to a one legged man, it fulfils a need that they didn't know they had, till they fell over.
Your religion is to me, like your sexual preferences, please keep it to yourself. Don't go round proclaiming 'I got religion', you don't do that when you catch syphilis, do you?
Enjoy it, feel secure in it, but it's personal.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 06:28 AM

I personally have no doubts in my Faith. The way I came to know God/Jesus/Holy Spirit left me in no doubt and where I am happy to tell anyone about my experience I don't believe I have the right to try to push them toward that belief. However, because of the way I live my life in line with the New Testament of God in the Bible.... people ask why I am different... and I tell them. Others have come to a knowledge of the Trinity as a result of this and that pleases me...... There are some on here who perhaps are unable to understand that someone can have a relationship with the living Christ and would criticise me for talking with that imaginary friend.. there are perhaps those who think I could better spend my time not reading my Bible or praying. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions/choices/followings... I am comfortable enough with mine not to worry about criticism from anywhere or anyone. That is not arrogance by the way, that is confidence. I have something in my life which I wish all others could have........ When I first entered "Mudcat Cafe' I was highly criticised for putting "Be Blessed' at the end of each post.... I now sign off with Best wishes. If people are not happy with what I say/do.. then I have to assess whether it is correct for me to change or to hold my position in line with my belief. I try hard not to offend or appear too forceful but I sometimes make mistakes ... in my belief "We all fall short of the Glory of God" and every Christian makes mistakes and maybe sometimes chooses to take the wrong path. We then have to go about trying to make things right..... not always successfully.
Best wishes, Mike.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 06:31 AM

amen!


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 06:33 AM

bad timing. Last post in response to j.mackenzie


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 06:43 AM

I'm an atheist - a disbeliever in a supreme being - because I can see no rational nor logical nor scientific reason for such a belief. As far as religion is concerned, which is a positive expression of such a belief, it has always appeared to me to be become a method of controlling a society and making it conform to a set of practices. Now - I'm under no illusions that all societies are subject to some form of control and conformity - else anarchy would reign - but I'd much rather be subject to a set of agreed rules which are not driven by an irrational belief in a non-existent supreme being. State, and not Church, in other words. Rules, the making of which I can participate in and help to modify (in an ideal world).

Religious extremism - which is more usually the topic which sets Mudcat on fire - is the ultimate expression of the desire to control and impose conformity. I abhor it.

The question of morality has often been put to me by religious people in discussions of belief and unbelief. "How can you possibly behave in a moral way", goes the argument, "without basic concepts of Good and Evil to lead you?" As far as I'm concerned, there is one simple rule by which I try and live: Treat others as you want to be treated yourself. Charles Kingsley's 'Mrs DoAsYouWouldBeDoneBy', in short, and I don't believe that I need much more of a precept to distinguish right from wrong. I make no claim to always do right - I can be as naughty as anyone, given half a chance - but I'm under no illusions about what I'm doing.

As far as being tolerant - as an atheist - of people with religious faith is concerned, I have very mixed views. I think it very wrong that children, from the moment of their birth, are indoctrinated with religious beliefs. Of course every child has to be brought up to distinguish good and bad behaviour as defined by the society in which it lives, but - as far as religions are concerned - no child should be subject to religious influence. Not for nothing do the Jesuits say, "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man" (Francis Xavier). Views inculcated at an early age are difficult to shrug off in later life. For those of you who are religious, ask yourself why you are the religion you are. Unless you've been converted in later life, for most of you the answer will probably be that it's an accident of birth. I happened to be born into a family who were ostensibly Church of England. If I'd been born in, say, Italy, it's highly likely I would have been born into a Catholic family. If I'd been born in Tel Aviv, it's highly likely I'd be Jewish and, if in Baghdad, a Muslim. Divine Providence or accident?

And which of these is "Right" and which of these is "Wrong"? As far as I'm concerned, seeing the irrational behaviour of my own "CofE" family, with its prejudices against Catholics and Jews, etc., the whole shebang was to be devoutly avoided!

I genuinely believe that, when I die, the atoms that have made me will return to the cosmos and reappear, millions of times, in millions of different forms, and in completely arbitrary ways. The span of my life, in cosmological terms, is less than a blink, and religion is to me a cumbersome, man-made and irrelevant construct.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: bbc
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 06:52 AM

Well-spoken, Joe. Most would consider me a conservative Protestant Christian. I attend services at a mainstream church almost every week. Even more, I believe that my life, moment by moment, should show the beliefs I profess. I believe in an active, loving God, who has an interest & involvement in my life. I believe that God communicates with me through His Holy Spirit (as well as through people) & seeks to direct my actions. Like you, having said the above, I am open-minded in most of my beliefs & don't attempt to push my beliefs onto others. I find that many who think themselves liberals, however, are not open to any other view. I've soured on Mudcat because of the frequent negativity & unthinking attacks on others. I appreciate you "hanging in." I still drop by, but don't comment much.

best always,

Barbara


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 06:59 AM

Guest Lively... my post was not in response to the previous one by John but was being written presumably whilst Johns post was published.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 07:07 AM

You would not need faith if there were rational, logical or scientific reasons for belief.
I have some faith but the doubts persist.
I find no conflict with science, cosmology and my faith.
Studies have shown that people with faith are happier people.
That is my experience too.
What a nice thankyou for believing.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 07:20 AM

Studies have shown that people with faith are happier people.
That is my experience too.


Keith - with respect - that's the kind of statement that usually drives me away from Mudcat discussions. And it does so because my immediate reactions to it includes multiple questions like: What studies? What evidence? Studies from all faiths? Studies from all parts of the world? What studies have measured the happiness of people without faith? And - most importantly - how is "happiness" defined?

As far as your own experience is concerned, who am I to doubt your state of mind? I accept it at face value but would still ask - was there a time when you were without faith - a time to which you can compare your present happiness. A bit of a tongue-in-cheek question, I admit, but you get my point, I'm sure.

I consider myself a very happy person. My family are all around me; I'm able to live modestly; I enjoy my formal work retirement and the music which has permeated my whole life; I live in a pleasant part of Sussex in a small but comfortable house. Life hasn't always been easy - why should it be - but religion has never played a part in the happiness or lack of it. What does my experience count as a statistic?


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 07:22 AM

A well thought through post Joe, thank you for sharing your creed with us.

The bit I thought most useful was your take on abortion. You said you mourn when an abortion is carried out, however necessary. That is a take on the subject that I only wish others could follow. To mourn is neither to condemn or condone. None of us want our loved ones to die but we either accept that they do and mourn their passing or have problems coming to terms with the fact that they do and still mourn.

Your take on that particular emotive subject is one that people on either side of the debate could (or in my opinion should) accommodate.

I guess I am firmly in the camp that will find fault in organised religion and especially those who seek to influence others on the basis of their belief. However, there is a huge difference between opposing the rise of religious interpretations of society's future and opposing people who believe in their God.

I have friends and family who are Christian, Muslim, Jewish etc. If I were to debate their take on life with them, I am sure we would end up arguing, hence I don't tend to do so.

Mudcat does occasionally give people the opportunity to, namely or anonymously, air their deep thoughts with no sense of having to hold back in case close friends are offended. That makes these posts somewhat cathartic and I for one welcome the opportunity.

I am irreligious, I resent Bishops sitting in our upper house (Lords) by dint of their superstition and I genuinely cannot see belief as being anything beyond superstition. It can be a power for good and is often used wrongly as an excuse for performing bad deeds. In fact I accept that if we didn't have religions, we would probably invent them again anyway.

At the risk of sounding elitist, I cannot help thinking that as we evolve, religion will become less useful and that activists are fighting a rear guard action. I am convinced that the tradition rather than the rationale is the reason most people still identify with religions.

But you know Joe, if awful deeds were being committed in the name of my religion and I felt strongly that my religion was still relevant, my anger would be inward looking rather than pointing out the shortcomings of we heathens.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 07:25 AM

In spite of having very bitter memories of a Catholic upbringing which included frequent beatings by Jesuit brothers at my Catholic Grammar School, I am inclined to agree with almost everything you say Joe.

It doesn't bother me that other people have different experience and different ideas.

I find myself in the exact centre of these arguments, being a believer in a deity, but not a believer in any religious organisation or cult.

I think the biggest stumbling blocks to discussion and tolerance are the oft repeated conflation of "Faith" with "Religion", which are IMO two entirely different things, and the fact that some of the debaters are so firmly entrenched at the extremes of the argument that they are not aware that a middle ground exists.

It's rather like two strangers shouting threats at each other across a wide gorge, not realising that if they take the bridge and meet in the middle they can discuss the situation quietly, or even shake hands.

It's the kind of thinking which leads to grown men terrifying primary school children in the street, because those children of a different faith have to cross their territory to get to school.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 07:26 AM

mcgrath: yes, as said your statement that 'my faith is not inconsistant with my doubt' is a different statement to saying 'your faith is dishonest, because you lack my doubt'.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 07:30 AM

sorry, repeating myself


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 08:27 AM

Reading this how grateful I am for my secular upbringing! I meet a lot of desprately Liberal Catholics - decent folk messed up by faith and superstition, still fearful of the lies, threats & fairy tales they were fed in childhood. Is that the problem here? Is that why Joe's forever telling us how good Catholics are whilst coming out with guff such as I don't see abortion as a good thing. I think that the loss of a fetus is a cause for mourning, even if that loss was necessary. In the UK (and elsewhere) the RCC is offering easy conversion to reactionary / sexist / homophobic Anglicans who want to get back to good old intollerance.

Maybe in looking at the vile history and ongoing horrors of the RCC what Joe really wants to shout is:

Wait! I'm a decent human being but I can't seem to tear myself away from my conditioning so I'm locked in this endless cycle of apology and self-justification which seems to get worse as I get older...

Like anyone really cares anyway.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 08:35 AM

Yeah, well - I do care as it happens, just can't hack the institutionalised bullshit which passes as Religion. Remember, they can't all be right, but they can all be wrong...


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 08:51 AM

Excellent post from Will, above (the one before last). One path of less resistance would be for no-one ever to discuss religion. That would leave everyone in their little comfort zone and would be a complete copout. It might work a little better in a world in which religion was not in any way organised, and in which worship, or not, was a completely free and private matter. But it isn't. As Will points out, that accident of birth thing determines what religion most religious people "belong to" and therein lies the seeds of much trouble on this planet, and it's absurd when you really think about it.

Religious extremism - which is more usually the topic which sets Mudcat on fire - is the ultimate expression of the desire to control and impose conformity. I abhor it.

That is a statement few people, bar the nutters, would ever disagree with. But where does moderation end and extremism begin? If you define it as above, then you are including all religious instruction in schools and you are including christenings and other induction ceremonies. My view is that these things are utterly wrong, but they are endemic and I'm not going to get anywhere by calling millions of parents "extremists" for sending their kids to Catholic schools or whatever. The argument has to be put, but it's next to impossible to put it without ruffling feathers. Believers see all the indoctrination as part of the religious community thing whereas atheists may see it as an instrument of control and a ploy to get people in young to keep up the numbers. If you can see a way of discussing that without it getting all inflamed you're a better man than I am, but that is no reason for the argument to be not put.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 08:53 AM

Will Fly, I was thinking of studies like this.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7302609.stm


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 09:08 AM

Just read it, Keith. The number of unanswerable questions it raises - particularly around the style, number and content of the household surveys, data collection methods, questionnaire bias, etc. (I used to do some work for the BBC Audience Research Department and its analyses of survey accuracy and bias) - is legion. I personally can't count it as credible evidence on its own, I'm afraid.

Define 'happiness' and how we measure it - and that's just for starters! The survey mentions that religion acts as a "buffer" against life's disappointments. Although I'm not religious, I think that's somewhat demeaning to religion.

I think we'll have to beg to differ.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 09:10 AM

'i feel that believers should also accept that there is no certainty' steve shaw. Thats an interesting position to take, because it demands the rejection of a fundamental premise held my many / most? believers of certainty in god through 'faith'. Its not too far from saying that you feel that believers shouldn't believe what they believe but they should believe what you believe.

I have no wish to lower the tone of the discussion but that is quite annoying. Suggesting to someone that it is irrational not to harbour at least a scintilla of doubt (which I'm sure nearly all believers do) is not the same as saying you should believe what I believe. I've already said that any atheist worth his or her salt will not tell you that God certainly does not exist. Any fellow atheist of mine who said such a thing would be taken to task. Asking you to adopt a similarly thoughtful and rational standard is not telling you to believe what I do, is it?

'when someone starts a thread asking for prayers... That is an insult' steve shaw. If a person believes in the power of prayer, and that is what they want, then they are entitled to ask for it. If as an atheist you are unable to provide what has been requested, then you can offer what you are able to provide. I think there have been requests for financial support on this forum, should people unable to offer any financial support feel insulted by the request?

The equation between material goods, which I may or may not possess through good or bad fortune, and prayers as something "I am unable to provide" is entirely false. A poor person may well see the giving of money by those who can afford it as entirely appropriate. Asking for prayers on a forum which is well known to have a goodly proportion of non-believers is simply out of order. There is a very easy alternative, which is to ask for kind thoughts and good wishes. Otherwise there is that smack of arrogant exclusivity, which may be taken that way whether intended or not, and your "unable to provide" remark seems to add to that impression.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 09:16 AM

What happened to this post - which was originally No. 51 at the top of this page?

=====================
From: Steve Shaw - PM
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 08:51 AM

Excellent post from Will, above (the one before last). One path of less resistance would be for no-one ever to discuss religion. That would leave everyone in their little comfort zone and would be a complete copout. It might work a little better in a world in which religion was not in any way organised, and in which worship, or not, was a completely free and private matter. But it isn't. As Will points out, that accident of birth thing determines what religion most religious people "belong to" and therein lies the seeds of much trouble on this planet, and it's absurd when you really think about it.

Religious extremism - which is more usually the topic which sets Mudcat on fire - is the ultimate expression of the desire to control and impose conformity. I abhor it.

That is a statement few people, bar the nutters, would ever disagree with. But where does moderation end and extremism begin? If you define it as above, then you are including all religious instruction in schools and you are including christenings and other induction ceremonies. My view is that these things are utterly wrong, but they are endemic and I'm not going to get anywhere by calling millions of parents "extremists" for sending their kids to Catholic schools or whatever. The argument has to be put, but it's next to impossible to put it without ruffling feathers. Believers see all the indoctrination as part of the religious community thing whereas atheists may see it as an instrument of control and a ploy to get people in young to keep up the numbers. If you can see a way of discussing that without it getting all inflamed you're a better man than I am, but that is no reason for the argument to be not put.
==================


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 09:19 AM

What is Mudcat doing? Has a previous post gone and shifted everything up one step? I've just gone back through my browser history and the post above - which was 51 - is now no. 50!

Apologies for the consequent double-posting.
    There was a double-posted message that got deleted, Will. That made message no 51 become message no 50. This happens all the time, especially when we delete Spam messages. If you're looking for a message within a thread, try [CTRL-F].
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Greg F.
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 10:00 AM

Hear, Hear, John, Steve & Will.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 10:13 AM

a *request* that someone consider their spiritual beliefs in the same way that you prefer to, isn't the same as believing someone 'should' do so. "I doubt, therefore so should believers". As for 'exclusivity', if you choose to exclude yourself, that is a choice you make. If you feel offended by it, grow a thicker skin. I believe that others should believe in god if that pleases them and request prayers from fellow believers if that pleases them likewise. Their belief in their god, is none of my business, so long as they don't try to make it my business, which is another matter. The uk is perhaps the most secular state in the world, it should be far moreso. The more secular a state, arguably the more tolerant we would all be towards others who believe differently to us.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: olddude
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 10:20 AM

the great beauty in the mystery of life is that each person has the free will and the right to choose whatever path works for them. That includes people of faith and those without. In the end, it is how we treat each other. When the dirt is thrown on ones grave, it is all about what difference we made in the lives of others, who will remember and why. Sometimes on mudcat it is heart warningly well, and at other times is is sad indeed ..


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 10:45 AM

a *request* that someone consider their spiritual beliefs in the same way that you prefer to, isn't the same as believing someone 'should' do so. "I doubt, therefore so should believers".

This isn't very clear, but anyway. Your last sentence misrepresents what I am saying (I'm beginning to think that this is what you want to do). I am not suggesting that you should doubt because I doubt. I am suggesting that it is rational for someone on either side of this particular issue to harbour at least a modicum of doubt. God is neither provable nor disprovable in any rational sense.

As for 'exclusivity', if you choose to exclude yourself, that is a choice you make. If you feel offended by it, grow a thicker skin.

That is a typical example of religious imperialism!

I believe that others should believe in god if that pleases them and request prayers from fellow believers if that pleases them likewise. Their belief in their god, is none of my business, so long as they don't try to make it my business, which is another matter.

Agreed, right up to the last bit. By posting for prayers they are making their belief public, and in that sense making it everyone's business. Your private belief is your business, but once you make it public... This is not a religious website. One reason, among many, I seldom go to religious sites is so as to avoid reading stuff like that. It's a small thing, but it is so easy to avoid by choosing a more inclusive form of words. I think that would be quite nice.

The uk is perhaps the most secular state in the world, it should be far moreso. The more secular a state, arguably the more tolerant we would all be towards others who believe differently to us.

Hmm. I suppose you could say that Stalin and Mao ran secular states. Like with everything else, tolerance will come through knowledge and understanding, and that means education.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 11:08 AM

Suibhne asks: Is that why Joe's forever telling us how good Catholics are

Don't think I'd argue that, Suib. I'd be more likely to argue how normal Catholics (and other religious people) are. They span the spectrum. They don't fit into little boxes that other people designate for them. For the most part, their opinions are their own, not necessarily the opinion of some leader who controls them. Some were brought up by parents and teachers who used religion as a tool of oppression, and most were not subjected to that oppression. "Mind control" was a hot topic in the 1950s, and people were told how the Soviets were going to bring us all under their godless mind control. I've never believed that.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Ebbie
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 11:24 AM

Hmmmmm. After remarking upon - and appreciating - Steve Shaw's show of respect in capitalizing names that are important to others, I now will remark upon other posters that say 'god' rather than "a god". Subtle or not, there is a difference. Discussing whether someone believes in 'a god' is quite different from discussing whether someone believes in 'god'. The usage of one is meant to be insulting.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 11:37 AM

the more tolerant we would all be towards others who believe differently to us

How is it possible to tolerate intollerance? It's like being tolerant of criminals and paedophiles. If all the religious were concerned with was their individual relationship to spirituality then fair enough, but when that spirituality is part of a multi-national hoo-hah machine with a long and bloody history of wholesale murder, persecution, execution, and the propagation of deathly compliance then is it not proper to question that? After all, religion is about actively choosing to believe in something, often agressively adminstered when we're too young to know any better.

At the heart of the Catholic Mythos is the The Fall of humanity from some state of happy perfection into that of miserable sin. Then comes The Passion of the Christ which somehow redeems anyone who believes humanity is worthless enough to have justified such pornography. Then comes the Roman Catholic Church persecuting anyone who disagrees with them in the name of a mythological suffering. On any level it doesn't make sense and yet this is what's being fed into the brains of millions of innocent children everyday, many of whom will eventually have the guts to reject it as being the utter nonsense it is, but many of whom won't. And they'll go on believing it, and passing it on like some defective genetic curse from one generation to to the next.

And the RCC is just one of thousands of religions, all of whom make about as much sense as the next, and all of whom claim to be true.

I've a long pesonal interest in Human Spirituality and the Wondrous Cultural Manifestations thereof, but I don't see any of that happening today; it's a thing of History and Heritage, long replaced by a modern enlightenment which is common to all - unlike religious belief, which is a hangover from the medieval shadows when, a mere 800 years ago, the RC Church were implementing the merry masacre of countless thousands. And they're still at it - only these days they do it by lobotomising their kids by filling their heads with stuff they'll be having nightmares about all their lives. It's like people who read the lies in the British Press and get so depressed about the state of the nation that they're afraid to go out of the house...


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 11:38 AM

re: "a god" v's "god" - there are many people with many faiths with many gods in this world. Some faiths claim ownership of the one and only, while others do not.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 11:42 AM

I'd be more likely to argue how normal Catholics (and other religious people) are.

People are people the world over, Joe - we just don't need the extraneous fairy-tale hoo-hah which tends to obscure that fact.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Ebbie
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 11:48 AM

Guest/lively, you misunderstand me, I believe.

I agree that religion, per se, has been the source and conduit of much violence, abuse and exploitation in its history. However, condemning it on that basis is like condemning the instutution of marriage. Marriage, too, has frequently been revealed as violent, abusive and exploitative. We still engage in it. Because there is much good in it too.

Where I get lost is when people claim that to believe in something unseen is irrational- we believe in unseen things every day.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 12:47 PM

It's a bit more complicated than "Treat others as you want to be treated yourself" (Will Fly - 18 Mar 11 - 06:43 AM)

After all, they might not want to be treated in the way you want to be treated yourself. As demonstrated by those who would see a request for prayers, or a promise to pray for another, as fighting talk.
...........................

A pretty level-headed and open-minded thread on the whole, which is unusual in a thread touching on religion here. That's thanks to Joe for the way he launched it.

Interesting that the occasional posts that seem to tend to break the harmony appear to aspire to a tolerance that in practice they do not demonstrate in their selection of language...


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 12:53 PM

"we just don't need the extraneous fairy-tale hoo-hah"

Isn't that a raison d'etre of a folklore site?


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 01:01 PM

"when that spirituality is part of a multi-national hoo-hah machine with a long and bloody history of wholesale murder, persecution, execution, and the propagation of deathly compliance then is it not proper to question that? After all, religion is about actively choosing to believe in something, often agressively adminstered when we're too young to know any better.
At the heart of the Catholic Mythos is the The Fall of humanity from some state of happy perfection into that of miserable sin. Then comes The Passion of the Christ which somehow redeems anyone who believes humanity is worthless enough to have justified such pornography. Then comes the Roman Catholic Church persecuting anyone who disagrees with them in the name of a mythological suffering."

Well, you've got me there Suibne.. I have a problem with the abuse of our fellow beings in any form. But it especially stings when those doing the abusing perversely assert some kind of religiously informed superiority over those they abuse as a means to justify their own morally corrupt behaviour. Of course this happens all the time. But it appears to be a particularly fond default for the tribes of Abraham.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 01:04 PM

It's a bit more complicated than "Treat others as you want to be treated yourself" (Will Fly - 18 Mar 11 - 06:43 AM)

Is it? For a general rule of conduct, it's actually quite reasonable - requests for prayers or otherwise - and includes addressing people with the same tolerance and respect as you yourself would wish to be addressed. And, of course, like any other rules of conduct, it can be ignored by those who choose to do so - which doesn't invalidate the general proposition in the first place.

If someone does consider a prayer request as an incitement to fighting talk, then that person is simply ignoring the rule.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Amos
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 01:09 PM

Another interesting loop that gets set up in these discussions is something you could call "wrong map" syndrome. If you encounter a "spiritual" phenomenon--whatever it may be--and discuss it with someone hard over on material science, they will seek to disprove it or reject it on the grounds of statistical science, or physics-based methodology which draws only from the repeatable patterns of physical realms for its evidentiary data. This of course sets up two opposed intolerable logic loops. In some ways it is like trying to find your way around Boston with a map of Seattle. Unlikely to resolve.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 01:11 PM

How about the case of a meat-eating gourmet who invites a vegetarian to dinner and generously puts a streak in front of them, Will?


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 01:20 PM

Well, I wouldn't care for a streak either - but I might like a steak. :-)

Seriously though, my answer to that would be that the meat-eater hadn't followed the rule: he hadn't himself considered how he - as a dedicated meat-eater - would feel if he was offered a totally vegetarian meal by the vegetarian. See what I mean? If the deliberate offering of meat to a vegetarian was meant as an insult - rather than a genuine mistake - then the proposition wasn't followed.

It's called thinking carefully and having consideration for how you deal with people.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 01:25 PM

I should add that, in addition to my own personal creed, my civil life - like everyone else's - is regulated by the laws of the land which, if I obey them to the best of my ability, regulates my place in society and punishes me if I break them. That's quite enough regulation for me without a further religious dimension based on propositions which I firmly disagree with.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 01:54 PM

Where I get lost is when people claim that to believe in something unseen is irrational- we believe in unseen things every day.

This is not the claim that atheists make. I believe that there is an Oort Cloud outwith the solar system that feeds comets in our direction, though I have never seen it. Neither has anyone else. But the evidence for its existence, though not conclusive, is reasonable. It's quite rational to believe that it exists, leaving some room for doubt. You can either accept the word of all the astronomers who have postulated it (rational enough if you agree that most astronomers abide by the generally-accepted tenets for the conduct of scientific enquiry, in other words, if you trust them) or you can examine the evidence for yourself (possibly even more rational). Equating God with other "unseens" is slightly disingenuous, for the simple reason that, unlike with, say, the Oort Cloud, evidence (from our knowledge of the laws of nature) and reason (reaching conclusions from that evidence) points overwhelmingly to the strong probability that God, as commonly defined as a supernatural entity, does not exist. You have to skip over evidence and reason, in other words rationality, to believe in God. You literally have to suspend disbelief. Which is what faith is all about. Of course, a lot of the argument we have here revolves around what constitutes "evidence." Personally, I don't accept tendentious ancient writings, ceremony, tradition, hearsay, theological texts or witness as evidence. Which is why I'm an atheist.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: PoppaGator
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 04:54 PM

Very eloquent opening post by Joe, followed by a remarkably good-spirited discussion.

After too many years of Catholic education, often but not always uncomfortably oppressive, I stopped participating in the Church well over forty years ago. I've always believed, absolutely, in a spiritual dimension beyond what's visible here in the world of finite time and space, while at the same time maintaining a strong agnosticism as regards the exact nature of whatever that might be.

Unlike the popular proponents of rationalist atheism, I can't accept the proposition that, because something's existence cannot be proven, it necessary cannot exist. On the contrary, I believe quite firmly that something far beyond human understanding certainly must exist.

That does not, however, entail acceptance of all the doctrines put forward by any church. All the organized religions are human institutions and have shown themselves to be subject to human imperfection. Very much so.

I grow tired of all the accusations that "religion" is to blame for all the various injustices and cruelties of human history. All these ills have been endemic to society as a whole and enforced by the various ruling elites; that religious leaders have usually been part of every society's privileged classes is a fact that demonstrates the human imperfection of the churches, but has nothing to do with the true message of Christ or Buddha or whoever, nor with the faith of the vast majority of believers.

In a nutshell, I would propose the argument that the only real spiritual truths promulgated by any religion are those very few tenets shared by all religions: to value truth and goodness (i.e., to "love God"), and to transcend the limitations of self (to love one's neighbor as oneself). This is the key to achieving higher consciousness.

Beyond such abstract philosophical considerations, we also need to consider the function of church congregations as communities. In the aftermath of Katrina, I was deeply affected by the kindness of strangers, groups of folks from faraway towns arriving at my home to help with the hard labor of cleanup and reconstruction. Some of the groups were quite explicit, even perhaps a little loud, in proclaiming their faith, often a very simplistic form of faith that I couldn't possibly share. But no one ever prosylitized, tried to convert me, or whatever; everyone was always helpful and humble and personable.

FWIW, I never observed a single bus-full of secular humanists on a "mission" trip to help us flood victims try to put our lives back together. Every bunch that showed up with chain saws, haz-mat suits, hammers and saws, etc., was affiliated with some church or synagogue. (I wouldn't be surprised if there were a few mosques ~ Muslim groups ~ in addition to the many Christian and Jewish communities; I just didn't see any.) For whatever reason, only communities organized around some explicitly religious principle seemed able to muster the organizational strength and resolve to actually make such a trip.

One closing note, perhaps a bit on the negative side: I'm very dismayed that anyone would feel "insulted" by a troubled fellow-Mudcatter's request for prayers. If you are truly able to accept that other folks may hold beliefs different from your own, you should be able to accept such a message in the spirit in which it is offered. In other words: Get over yourself! Just as you expect others to realize that our community includes significant numbers of unbelievers, you need to recognize that there are believers among us as well.

I have serious doubts of my own about petitional prayer; I tend towards the belief of "non-theistic" Buddhists, that the spiritual laws of karma, etc., are hard and fast, and that none of us can expect special treatment because we "ask" for favoritism on behalf of the Divine. My idea of the value of prayer ~ or, more precisely, of meditation ~ lies in its role in transforming oneself, placing oneself in closer harmony with the creative force of the universe and thereby with greater hope of experiencing favorable outcomes. In other words ~ in words well-known in the context of "old time religion" ~ we pray/meditate in order to "get right with God."


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 05:07 PM

Amos: "If you encounter a "spiritual" phenomenon--whatever it may be-- and discuss it with someone hard over on material science, they will seek to disprove it or reject it on the grounds of statistical science, or physics-based methodology which draws only from the repeatable patterns of physical realms for its evidentiary data. This of course sets up two opposed intolerable logic loops."

YES! Or as I'd put it, the two individuals arguments are based on different premises. One needs a rational/material basis for their beliefs, the other requires a religious/faith based premise, one party expecting the other to debate their belief in the terms of the other, is not too far from saying "I think you expressing your freedom of thought is great, with the tiny caveat that you think freely in the same way that I think".
    Say, our policy is that you're supposed to use a consistent name whenever you post. By rights, this post should be deleted, but I'll let it go this time.
    -Joe Offer, Forum Moderator-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 06:12 PM

"If you encounter a "spiritual" phenomenon--whatever it may be--and discuss it with someone hard over on material science, they will seek to disprove it or reject it ..."

The assumption there is that "discussion" is about disproving or rejecting the other person's way of thinking.

It can be more about trying to understand the other person and identifying where there is disagreement and where there are things held in common. That seems to me a more fruitful kind of discussion. This thread has largely been an example of this kind of discussion, which makes a pleasant change.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Bill D
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 07:57 PM

As many know, I have commented in various threads about religion for 8-10 years. I seem to walk a slightly different path than most because I tend to analyze the arguments and reasoning involved rather than state specifically 'my' position... Of course, it is easy to see that my position is that of a non-religious person.
   I came to it FROM religion, having been raised a Methodist...so I remember when I just matter-of-factly accepted what I was told. I didn't really ask much till I was about 15 or so....then I got interested in the 'why's of how people think & believe, and this led to a major in Philosophy in college.

So... because I remember 'believing', I see why people DO believe, and why articles like that linked above tell us something.

It said: "Religion 'linked to happy life'
   Belief may make us more contented
   A belief in God could lead to a more contented life, research      suggests."


Nothing surprising about that! Of course sincere "belief" in God and afterlife is comforting.....which says nothing about whether there IS in fact either one....and I would NOT wish to take that comfort away from those who are simply not psychologically configured to deal with DISbelief. There are sayings to the effect that "religion is a crutch"....well, maybe....and sometimes some people need a crutch, simply because.... because...

Now... there is a reason we use the word "believe". If God parted the clouds everyday and wrote instructions in flaming letters in the sky, we might not need 'belief'... even more so if lightning occasionally struck someone who was obviously ignoring those Heavenly instructions! Since that does NOT seem to happen, it is easy for some to question "whether".

   Here is what concerns me: **because** a strong belief in religion also often includes a mandate to tell others about one's belief, ("Go, and become fishers of men"), it leads to conflict.

Joe Offer makes the point that he and other moderate Christians are quite willing to go about their religion and not bother those who are not religiously inclined. If that were the universal way of doing it, the debates would be much 'easier'. But those who accept the mandate to live their religion publicly and preach or 'witness' it to others are numerous enough and vocal enough that it IS an issue. Right now there are attempts to insert religious doctrines into politics and various candidates and legislators are USING appeals to conservative Christianity to get elected.
Well...gee... if they are 'right', as they 'believe' they are, it even makes sense...from their point of view. It is even strange that moderate Christians do NOT proselytize! You see....there is a fundamental problem when some simply do not accept the tenets that others consider obvious and compelling.
Issues like abortion become serious, in that some feel their belief system requires them to oppose it....some in radical ways, while others (like me and various others here) cannot comprehend why ANY systems that, by definition, is optional and based on 'belief' should have ANY control over our lives! We say things like: "If YOU don't believe abortion is right...don't do it!" and "If YOU don't believe in shopping on Sunday...stay home!" and "...but leave ME alone!"

It is really, really upsetting to atheists and agnostics when we see schoolbooks with statements directly contradicting science...simply because some believe that their 'interpretation' of some book assembled in myriad ways by anonymous clerics thousands of years ago leads them to 'believe' that Jesus...whoever he was.. MUST have known dinosaurs....or some equally interesting concept.

When you add deceptive education to attempts to force religion on others...and see people being killed in wars and assassinations because of religious differences... you WILL have continuous conflicts and arguments.

Now... that STILL doesn't mean that non-believers should gratuitously insult those who are **merely** expressing an opinion. There is no way of 'proving' them wrong, so it is a good idea to limit complaints to serious matters...like the aforementioned proselytizing and meddling in what should be personal affairs.

Can I say more? Sure... I could go off on 43 tangents on any of my points! But, sheesh! All I can hope for is restraint ...from both sides.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 09:47 PM

One closing note, perhaps a bit on the negative side: I'm very dismayed that anyone would feel "insulted" by a troubled fellow-Mudcatter's request for prayers. If you are truly able to accept that other folks may hold beliefs different from your own, you should be able to accept such a message in the spirit in which it is offered. In other words: Get over yourself! Just as you expect others to realize that our community includes significant numbers of unbelievers, you need to recognize that there are believers among us as well.

Yes, I accept that others have beliefs at variance with mine and I don't see mine as any better or worse than theirs. We all have our own way of getting through the rocky roads of life. Fine. If I come on here and prattle on about my atheism I fully expect to have to defend my notions against vigorous challenges from believers. In just the same way I expect believers who put themselves about to have to face challenges from me. We've had thousands of years of religion being protected from criticism, and I think that is unhealthy and plain wrong. If you come on to a mixed forum of this nature and publicly ask for prayers you should not be too surprised if someone comes back at you and says, "I don't do your bloody prayers, it's a shame you had to put it that way because I really do wish you well." It's not me who has to get over myself, it's the thoughtless and smug people of faith who put up these invidious messages when, as I said, it is an absolute piece of cake to word your message in a far friendlier and more inclusive way. I mean, why wouldn't you? Good question, that, huh? Now you've pushed me into defending what I said and I must say it's all a bit over the top. I regard messages of the kind I'm objecting to as no more than minor irritations from people who really should know better. Believe me, I lose no sleep and there is very little for me to "get over." So be less rude, eh?


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: andrew e
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 11:41 PM

My father was a Church Of England minister. I was sent to boarding school to sing in a major English cathedral choir.
I used to daydream I was Superman during the sermons!

I never "believed" or "not believed" any of it, and now I don't use the word "belief". I talk about how I "feel".

What does "believe" really mean anyway?

It doesn't feel logical to me that everything here is just random chance. But then that's just maybe the way my mind works.
I feel there's something, but I have no idea what it is.
For me, music is a link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ms-uOoDj2fQ


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 12:46 AM

"What does "believe" really mean anyway?"

Good question! And it's one that people should ask themselves more often instead of just assuming they know what it means and fighting with other people about what they do or do not believe.

There are a few things I know (from my own direct experience). Those things I can definitely rely upon. There are a great many things I don't know, therefore they are hypothetical, but I may consider them on a range from very probable...to fairly probable...to rather improbable....to very unlikely. Nevertheless, I don't know them, and I KNOW that I don't know them, so I'm not interested in either denying them out of hand (as so many do)...or in "believing" them (as many others do). It's not a question of belief or disbelief. I'll leave the assertion of belief and disbelief alike to those who like to think they already have the answer to everything. ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 02:18 AM

My atheism is based on less profound bases than, say, Aquinas's paradox as to the Problem of Evil: ~~ a God supposed to be both omnipotent and all-loving; but, as there is evil, either he could stop it if he wanted but doesn't, in which case he is not all-loving, or he would stop it if he could but can't, in which case he is not omnipotent. (I have always considered Aquinas a very lucky man ~~ if he had lived three centuries later they would certainly have burnt him instead of making him a saint, wouldn't they?)

But I find the concept of a God as postulated incredible for much more mundane reasons. Surely, if we are the summit of his creation, he could have designed us a hell of a lot better ~~ not having this peculiarly inconvenient necessity for constantly pissing & shitting, for instance. Or all the piddling, petty little disabilities that plague us incessantly. Never mind the problem of Serious Evil ~~ why headaches and toothaches? - that's what I want to know.

Not to mention the agony of childbirth, to which I am grateful that I have never had to be subject. One of the few sensible aspects of the religion in which I was brought up ~~ not that it's particularly less sensible than the rest of them ~~ is that it requires men of certain orthodoxies within it to thank God daily "that I was not born a woman". The reason given in Genesis for this excessive disadvantage to which half of us are subject, that it is a punishment for Man's First Disobedience and Eve's Original Sin, seems, within the parameters of all these beliefs that we over this side just can't accept, the best possible explanation ~~ which, returning to my original postulation that it is the smaller things rather than the greater that seem to me to make the concept of an Intelligently Designing Being (as some of them over there tried to put it recently), to be, to express it with all possible moderation, so excessively unlikely as to be for all practical purposes entirely incredible. And, indeed, undesirable ~~ why would anyone want to believe in such a vengeful, vindictive entity as the source of all being!

Intelligent Design, forsooth. Unintelligent Design, more like... Now, I ask you, who can seriously believe in a deity so crassly inefficient?


~Michael~


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 02:39 AM

Steamin' Willie says:
    But you know Joe, if awful deeds were being committed in the name of my religion and I felt strongly that my religion was still relevant, my anger would be inward looking rather than pointing out the shortcomings of we heathens.
Well, yes, Willie....and no. I certainly acknowledge that an appalling number of Catholics have done awful things in the name or or under the guise of my Catholic religion. I do what I can to combat that sort of thing - and yet it continues. And yes, I do get very angry when I encounter such things in my church.

But does the fact that I belong to a religion that has some bad people, mean that I have no right to speak out against other injustices when I see them? I think my country's immigration policies are unjust; and I think there is unjust treatment of homeless people in Sacramento, where I do volunteer work in a center that serves poor women. I think capital punishment is immoral, and I am a pacifist and don't believe in warfare.

If I belong to a church which has priests who abuse children, does that mean I forfeit my right to seek justice for people who are mistreated by my society? And does it also mean that I have no right to object when people make generalizations about my church that simply are not accurate?

We're all flawed. Not one of us is perfect. Nonetheless, I think we're all obligated to speak out against injustice and to do what we can to stop it.

But I don't call homosexual marriage and most aspects of sexual behavior an injustice, so I don't think churches should interfere with that sort of thing.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 03:27 AM

Ah, but Michael, if you were a smooth-operating, perfect automaton, would your life be worth living? Would there be any challenge in your life? Would there be any opportunity for growth or creativity?

I don't see God as some sort of all-powerful script-writer that controls all that happens. I suppose some religious people see God that way, but I don't. Part of what I see as God is the Creative Force - and many people call that same force Evolution. Another aspect of my view of God, is as being the Center of Love. A third aspect is a common essence that draws all existence into unity - whatever it is that draws us into oneness. These are the three aspects of God that are most relevant to me at the present time.

The idea of sin and redemption? I think we all have a temptation to turn away from our higher selves, and move into selfishness. I also believe in the power of redemption - that somehow, we have been give the strength to return to our higher selves. Is Adam one man, or is he Everyman?

I don't like to describe this stuff because it's hard to convey in words, the impact this has on me. That's why people use myth and ritual and poetry and allegory - to describe that which cannot be described. But at least that's a general idea. I think it's quite different from the stereotype that Suibhne has imposed upon me.


-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,John MacKenzie
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 05:03 AM

Now let me ask about religion and morality, as to many people they seem to go hand in hand.
As a non believer, I consider my moral standards to be somewhat Calvinist, due to my Scots upbringing. Yet I find the morals of many God Botherers to be a very moveable feast. I don't mean sexual morals here, I mean moral principles in general.
For instance Joe as an avowed Christian, allows some things to pass on here, that I would expect him to find abhorrent, and if for no other reason than that, I could never be a believer, as turning the other cheek where I come from, just invites another slap.
I know there is a line to be drawn, and sometimes it amazes my how much people's lines differ.
The attitude of different religions to sexual behaviour is a case in point.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 05:44 AM

I think it's quite different from the stereotype that Suibhne has imposed upon me.

In all all fairness, Joe, you impose the stereotype on yourself - that of the anguished folk-liberal who is also a confirmed Roman Catholic, and, therefore at odds with much of the history & theology of their faith and its teachings. I know plenty of Gay Catholics who are utterly devoted to their mother church despite its teachings on such things - some of them seem to get off on it; and I know divorced Catholic couples who are effectively non-communicant but would be lost without weekly mass. Times it seems that the Official Church is way of line with the Pastoral Reality, but the relationship of individuals to a monolithic theology evolved over the last 2,000 years is bound be be a bit off to say the least. You've already stated your beliefs on abortion, but what of Limbo and Purgatory, which still haunt the nightmares of two lapsed Catholics of my acquaintance who were both ill-treated by priests in their childhood. I know many devout Roman Catholics who refuse to acknowledge the present pope, and many others who attend Mass as if it was some grim penance. As an old priest friend of mine once said: You never see anything fill so slowly as a church before Holy Mass; just as you never see anything empty so quickly afterwards!

The phenomenon of the Enlightened Catholic still clinging onto their very unenlightened faith is maybe not recent, but I would think a lot of Catholics out there would find much to sympathise with in the your opening post. One fellow of my acquaintance is forever telling me that the Bible is pretty much 100% wrong, but he never misses Mass. But then again, I know a lot of normal unenlightened Roman Catholics who just get on with their lives without questioning any of it. They are the simple & unthinking pro-life anti-Gay Rosary chanters who go on pilgrimages to Lourdes and Walsingham and might even check the latest wisdom of the BVM from Medjugorje where they gather in their thousands. A dying breed? Let's hope so!


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 08:25 AM

=== Ah, but Michael, if you were a smooth-operating, perfect automaton, would your life be worth living? ===

Can't see where I ever expressed such a desire, Joe. The wish that, just maybe, I could get on with something without the constant interruptions of such irrelevancies as needing to pee or wishing I didn't have quite such a headache, is hardly an ambition to be any sort of automaton. What I complain of is that the Almighty, if he really did make me, could have done so much more efficient a job of it — if he actually was as "Almighty" as such a designation suggests.

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 09:00 AM

Well, Michael, it depends how you define God - and my contention is that God defies definition. Your wish for a less-imperfect body posits a God who writes a script according to an "intelligent design" model.
But I think you and I would agree that we came to be though a complex intermingling of coincidences and accidents and logical consequences, following the laws of Nature - we evolved. Our parents may have made a conscious decision to conceive us - or we may have had more serendipitous beginnings. Some people see a divinity underlying that process, and some don't. Whatever the case, the way we came to be is the same, whether we see divinity in the process or not.

So, if the force that created you was an "Intelligent Designer," then the fact that you are imperfect may be an indication that your Designer was less than perfect - but only if that's the way the process worked, but some Designer pulling strings.

But I think you and I would agree the we are more the product of accidents and coincidences that somehow came together to make us what we are. I rather like being accidental, but I'd agree that there are a lot of aches and pains and sorrows and imperfections that I'd rather not have.

But rather than seeing the Divinity as being the Causer of the process by which we came to be, I see divinity in the essence of the process. Or, at least that's how I would define it from today's perspective. My perspective is likely to change tomorrow.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,John MacKenzie
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 09:13 AM

So creation can be defined as GIGO then?


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: olddude
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 09:21 AM

Faith cannot be defined it is only felt. Some like myself it is Christ, others it is Allah, Budda, the great spirit. They have all one message, forgive others, what you do to others you do to yourself. Once that message is lost then it becomes religion, and political. A good man no matter of faith or without faith will follow such a path. Atheists are good moral people and some are bad, Religious people are good moral people and some are bad. It is all in how we view life and how we conduct or own actions. Faith is not a flag to be waved or forced on others. That is probably the worst thing one can do. Free will is what defines life. For a faith based person actions speak a lot louder I think. But again that is only my path, each must have their own.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 12:11 PM

John MacKenzie said something that really made me think. He said:
    For instance Joe as an avowed Christian, allows some things to pass on here, that I would expect him to find abhorrent, and if for no other reason than that, I could never be a believer, as turning the other cheek where I come from, just invites another slap.
Over the years, many Mudcatters have taken me to task for belonging to a church that slaughters Albigensians, conducts the Spanish Inquisition, and harbors child-molesting priests. It appeared in one message that Suibhne was taking me to task for something Catholics did "only" eight hundred years ago.
The key word here, I think, is "allow." It's not a word I use very often, because it doesn't fit into my view of the scheme of things. "Control" is another word that is very foreign to me. I am very much a believer in individual responsibility and individual creativity, and I don't believe that I have the right or the ability or the responsibility to control the actions of others to any significant extent. I am what I am and I do what I do. The world around me is mostly beyond my control, and I see much of my surroundings as a matter of serendipity. I can have a profound effect on the world around me by who I am and what I do, but I cannot control that world.
And conversely, I cannot be controlled to any significant extent. Through the twenty-five years I worked for the government, I had several bosses who found that out. If they left me alone, I did outstanding work; and I had a national reputation for the quality of my work. If the bosses tried to control me, there was trouble; and I suppose I also had a national reputation for obstreperousness.
I spend a lot of time picking up garbage in an alley in the poor section of Sacramento where I do volunteer work, because I think it makes the alley look better. I don't do it to make myself look good or to earn credit or pay – I simply do it because I think it ought to be done. People stop in the alley and ask me how they could get somebody to clean this mess up, and they say something should be done to stop people from making such a mess of the alley. I tell them that I tried for six months to get the city or the apartment owners or somebody to clean it up, and I got nowhere. So, one day about five years ago, I spent four hours cleaning the alley, and it looked pretty good after that. Ever since, I've spent about an hour a week cleaning that alley, and it looks pretty good. Some kids stopped by and asked if I was doing "community service" and I said that I was – but I think they thought I was doing it because the court ordered me to do community service. Nope – it just makes the world look better. It also gives me a chance to chat with the neighbors as they go by in the alley.
Cleaning the alley is a horrible job. I pick up all sorts of disgusting things – used condoms, animal bones and once a skull, feces (human and otherwise), diapers and sanitary napkins, all sorts of rotted food, and those fricking plastic bags that are everywhere in our universe nowadays. It's such a disgusting job that I wouldn't ask or hire anybody to do it – but I have to admit that the neighborhood looks better when I'm done, and I like it that way. I also clean the bathrooms in church between Masses – simply because I like them to be clean. I do these things as an experiment – to see what effect my efforts can have on the world that surrounds me. I've found I can have quite a profound effect on my world – and besides, the alley looks pretty good nowadays.
So, to tie in with all this, my idea of God has to do with serendipity and wonder and joy and beauty and freedom – not control, not judgment, not oppression. I see church as a framework through which I can encounter this God. I see Jesus Christ as a man of complete integrity who did all he could to bring justice and compassion to this world, and that led him to his death. And through that integrity and through that death, he redeemed the world and inspired others to bring justice and compassion. And through all that, he conquered death. I see Jesus as divine, and others don't; and that's OK with me. Now, this is my belief – I don't really expect anybody to believe the same thing. I just want them to allow me to be who I am and believe what I believe.
Now, other people see the world through different eyes, and their perspective is every bit as valid as mine. For them, the word "control" has much more meaning. They see chaos in the world, and a need for someone to take control of that chaos and bring order to the world. They look to God and church and government to bring control and order to that chaos. They also look to themselves to bring order and control. Sometimes their God and church and government and their own efforts have very good results – but when God and church and government and their own efforts fail, they lose heart. They may stop believing in God, church, government – and finally themselves.
These two perspectives (Weltanschauungen?) are mutually exclusive, and people with one perspective find it nearly impossible to understand the other – or even to coexist with those with the opposite perspective. But coexist they must. I certainly find both perspectives in my surroundings, and even in my own Catholic church – and it's not an easy coexistence. But somehow, we have to find a way to coexist and work together.
I believe it can be done - and I believe the tension between these two perspectives, can be a very healthy and creative thing.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 12:53 PM

Most of the spiritual literature I've ever read about the "turn the other cheek" thing is that it was a metaphor about inner consciousness (attitude), not outer behaviour. I think that is also true about pretty much everything else Jesus taught. He was not teaching people about outer behaviour, he was teaching them about managing inner consciousness. If you can manage inner consciousness effectively, then you will be able to manage your outer behaviour in a harmonious and effective manner.

The metaphor did not mean literally that you offer your left cheek to someone who has just struck you on the right cheek. It means that if you encounter negative thinking, negative attitude from someone...you don't do what people usually do and immediately move into a negative response reaction. You maintain a positive inner consciousness and stay calm and constructive rather than flipping into negativity the moment something goes wrong.

In other words, instead of focusing on anger, hatred, hostility, revenge, payback, etc...whenever you encounter anger, hatred, hostility, revenge....you keep a positive focus. You work with constructive responses to stress, not the standard destructive reactions that occur most quickly to an immature personality. A constructive response in a situation demanding self-defence is to defend yourself with the minimum amount of force necessary...but it's not rational or helpful to follow that up with hating the other person for the next 20 years and constantly envisioning ways of getting even with them. If you do the latter, you are spectacularly failing to "turn the other cheek". ;-) Get it? If, on the other hand, you use the minimum force necessary to defend yourself at the moment, and don't carry any grudge about it afterward, then you have turned the other cheek, because you've stayed positive inside yourself.

That is what is meant by "turning the other cheek". It means doing that rare thing and NOT falling immediately into chronically negative thinking and chronically negative, hostile response the moment something doesn't go your way.

The longstanding vendettas that form on a forum like this between certain individuals, for instance, are a fine example of people signally failing to "turn the other cheek", because they won't let go of their old grievances. Most of us are guilty of this sort of thing to some extent. The more you indulge in it, the worse it gets. Jesus was advising people not to indulge in it at all, no matter what the provocation. That's quite a challenge, and one most people are unwilling to fully embrace, because they'd rather stay angry... ;-) They become addicted to it, in fact. It makes them feel righteous, and it's also a sort of adrenalin rush...adds a bit of excitement to their day. (but it's hard on your physical health as time goes by, because the body eventually gets damaged by holding a lot of internal stress, anger, etc...it catches up with you)

The thing that most distinguishes a spiritually advanced person is that he doesn't hang on to past emotional and mental negativity. He lets go of it entirely, and comes to each new moment fresh and unburdened, without carrying a load of heavy emotional baggage from the past. He has, thereby, turned the other cheek.

I have been around such people...but they are exceedingly rare. Most people, myself included, are a walking story of their past emotional issues and their present reactions based on those past issues. I'm less sucked in by that sort of thing than I used to be...because I watch for it, and I often succeed in avoiding getting hijacked by it now...but I still have a long way to go. To turn the other cheek is to avoid getting hijacked by negative thinking. It is NOT to become incapable of practical and legitimate self-defence.

(in my opinion)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Stringsinger
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 01:00 PM

Joe,

I, for one, have never accused you of being irrational but find your posts most human
in the good sense, full of tolerance, open to new ideas and discussions. I think you've done an excellent job here on Mudcat.

I like to separate the person from the ideology. That's how I deal with each person I meet.

Having an argument about the existence of a god is sort of fruitless, a merry-go-round of semantic nonsense, an unresolvedly empty argument, no parameters or definitions in the words, nor a resolution that makes anyone happy.

I firmly restate my adherence to the principle of Separation of Church and State, grossly distorted by the Wrong Wing, blind fundamentalists, and some odious political figures.

I personally don't care if you wear a fried egg on your head (though I don't eat 'em)
as long as you are a kind, perceptive and constructive human being. A person isn't what they wear or even what they profess, it's what they do that counts in my book.

I do take religious talk with a great deal of skepticism since I don't adhere to any of it,
but I accept that people have a right to discuss what they want, profess any belief that they have, but not crying "fire" in a crowded theater.

I also maintain that if you scratch a war, you will find religious doctrine at the bottom of it, whether about godless communism, Shia and Sunni, Papist and Proddie, Jew and Palestinian, Serb against Bosnian or Croation, and Coptic against Muslim (sad to say that about Egypt). Violence is of itself useless even when propagated by religion.

Keep up the good work Joe. Your posts are always interesting.

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 01:09 PM

Another thing you'll find if you scratch any war is a financial issue. Or a territorial issue. Or a political issue. Or a cultural issue. Or a racial issue. Any and all of those.

Which issue you most tend to focus on among those may say as much or more about you than it does about the issue.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Stringsinger
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 01:33 PM

Yes, and at the basis of territory, money or politics, the specter of religion is there.

I'm not advocating the abolition of religion, but as far as the impact of religion on war, as the cliche goes these days "I'm just sayin'".

Here's a solution. Keep religion out of nationalism, politics, money and violence.

Is there a Christian nation? A Jewish nation? A Muslim nation? A Buddhist nation?

See any problems with this?

Then there's Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs claiming he's doing "god's will",
and John Boehner's "So be it" translated to "amen".


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 01:41 PM

Well, Little Hawk, I think that religion is often a mask for financial, territorial, political, cultural, and racial agendas. The idea that "God is on our side" covers a multitude of evils.




Hi, Frank. I guess I've never been much for ideology. I suppose everybody has an ideology, but I've never stuck to mine very well. I tend to go with the flow, to react to what I encounter. I acknowledge that people can have very strong political and religious ideologies. I tend to view my political and religious views as context rather than ideology.

I, too, believe in separation of church and state. I see evangelical Christianity as the dominant religious ideology in the U.S. - even many Catholics seem to think in evangelical terms. I certainly wouldn't want that kind of thinking to be imposed on me, to have my kids say evangelical prayers in school or be taught "creationism."




On the other hand, I'm still disappointed by the intolerance many Mudcatters express, and I still don't understand it. I find that certain Mudcatters constantly use terms that are intentionally insulting, denigrating, or demeaning to people of religious faith. I see constant generalizations that lump all members of a group with the misconduct of a few. I see religious groups blamed for the misdeeds of their members from hundreds of years ago. All of this seems unfair to me. It sounds very much like what I hear from anti-Muslim bigots, and anti-black and anti-Jew and anti-Japanese bigots. I think we need to look at each other as individuals, not by the groups we belong to.

And yes, I know very well that many people who call themselves religious, seem to have the condemnation of others as a primary aspect of their religion. I don't think it's right to pass judgment on others that way.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Bill D
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 01:46 PM

"Keep religion out of nationalism, politics, money and violence."

Yep...indeed. But when masses of people who either can't think or won't think keep inserting it...what do you do?
You can write strict, clear laws saying "Religion shall not be considered when choosing candidates or in election campaigns!" ... and they will STILL figure out how to proclaim their religious preferences and 'moral' beliefs and get those non-thinkers to vote on that basis.

The only recourse is 'somehow' managing to affect schools and the curriculum so as to gradually educate people about 'how to think'. (NOT tell them what to believe or disbelieve....just what clear thinking is.)
Accomplish this and you eventually get the point across....(you know...in a hundred years or so... ;>(


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Bill D
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 01:55 PM

Let me be clear... I use "those who can't or won't think" to mean just that... there are plenty of clear thinking, sane, reasonable people whom *I* just happen to disagree with.... about basic principles, presuppositions, logical processes, semantics...etc.
I just have too many years (in Kansas, mostly) dealing with those who blindly take what they were spoon-fed as....ummmm... gospel.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 02:01 PM

"The only recourse is 'somehow' managing to affect schools and the curriculum so as to gradually educate people about 'how to think'. (NOT tell them what to believe or disbelieve....just what clear thinking is.)"

Topics such as Philosophy and World Mythology should be compulsory at Junior School to encourage imaginative exploration of all kinds of ideas, including those of our world religions. I wish I'd had them instead of "Religious Education", which IMO aught to be banned - though Comparative Religion might be an alternative to World Mythology, I'd take World Mythology.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 02:04 PM

My atheism is based on less profound bases than, say, Aquinas's paradox as to the Problem of Evil: ~~ a God supposed to be both omnipotent and all-loving; but, as there is evil, either he could stop it if he wanted but doesn't, in which case he is not all-loving, or he would stop it if he could but can't, in which case he is not omnipotent. (I have always considered Aquinas a very lucky man ~~ if he had lived three centuries later they would certainly have burnt him instead of making him a saint, wouldn't they?)

But I find the concept of a God as postulated incredible for much more mundane reasons. Surely, if we are the summit of his creation, he could have designed us a hell of a lot better ~~ not having this peculiarly inconvenient necessity for constantly pissing & shitting, for instance. Or all the piddling, petty little disabilities that plague us incessantly. Never mind the problem of Serious Evil ~~ why headaches and toothaches? - that's what I want to know.

Not to mention the agony of childbirth, to which I am grateful that I have never had to be subject. One of the few sensible aspects of the religion in which I was brought up ~~ not that it's particularly less sensible than the rest of them ~~ is that it requires men of certain orthodoxies within it to thank God daily "that I was not born a woman". The reason given in Genesis for this excessive disadvantage to which half of us are subject, that it is a punishment for Man's First Disobedience and Eve's Original Sin, seems, within the parameters of all these beliefs that we over this side just can't accept, the best possible explanation ~~ which, returning to my original postulation that it is the smaller things rather than the greater that seem to me to make the concept of an Intelligently Designing Being (as some of them over there tried to put it recently), to be, to express it with all possible moderation, so excessively unlikely as to be for all practical purposes entirely incredible. And, indeed, undesirable ~~ why would anyone want to believe in such a vengeful, vindictive entity as the source of all being!

Intelligent Design, forsooth. Unintelligent Design, more like... Now, I ask you, who can seriously believe in a deity so crassly inefficient?


This lot could indeed be seen as an argument against the existence of God, but there are much better ones. The points you make actually add up to a strong argument for evolution. There is no goal in evolution so there is no end-point, no perfect being. It has to be that way or natural selection will not have done its job. Life on Earth must keep adapting and changing as the environment changes, and we know that never stops happening. Evolution is thus excused from the criticism you might level at a supernatural being for not making you perfect. Your play areas are going to remain very close to your sewage outfall for the foreseeable future. And drink less and the headaches might go away.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Stringsinger
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 02:15 PM

Well said, Joe.

One of the problems is when there is a push, there is a push back. That is not always a rational response.

Intolerance is intolerable. Ad-hominem name calling is never a legitimate foundation for a rational discussion.

The Mudcatters that use insults to promote their views are "shooting themselves in the foot."

Intolerance is the enemy of Freethought.

I respect a rational discussion that may contain disagreement as a valid form of discourse but not insults, name-calling or verbal violence (that's what it is).

Views of religion must be very personal and not evidence to be defended in a court of law unless they transgress the Separation that Thomas Jefferson so brilliantly called for.

Fortunately, Americans have a legacy in our Constitution, The First Amendment, a brilliant idea that endures regardless of how some in the Wrong Wing spin it.

Regardless of whether it's a discussion of religion, politics,philosophy or whatever,
insults, intolerance and anger have little place in it.

You can have a sense of justice which may contain outrage, but ultimately the anger is not what prevails when justice has finally arrived. A strategic goal, well thought out,
peacefully articulated with clarity and conviction will win in the pages of history.

The Constitution, the First Amendment, has made Americans the beneficiary of a wise idea and we have inherited a sense of proportional justice that carries over today in our
nurturance of organized labor, the common good, equality and tolerance that defines us.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Ebbie
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 03:22 PM

Guest/lively, you say: "Topics such as Philosophy and World Mythology should be compulsory at Junior School to encourage imaginative exploration of all kinds of ideas, including those of our world religions."

Do you realize what would be the immediate reaction in the education system in the US? The religious - not necessarily, the religious right - would take their children out of public schools forthwith. They are already worried about what they perceive as the morally bankrupt state of our country as evidenced in our schools.

Courses such as 'World Mythology' would be offered in school on the same basis as 'Religous Education' is today, allowing parents to opt out.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 03:28 PM

Joe Offer - "I think that religion is often a mask for financial, territorial, political, cultural, and racial agendas."

Exactly. Politicians will use any motivator they can to get people onside, and religion (or hostility toward religion) is among several powerful motivators in that regard...so they use it, naturally.

Maoists, the Soviets, and the Khymer Rouge, and even the Spanish Republicans (in the Spanish Civil War) used hatred OF organized religion to motivate their soldiers to fight harder. Every American president uses overt references to his own supposed religious faith to get public support and to get votes. That's because religion...or dislike OF religion...is something that goes very deep in a lot of people, so it's a powerful motivator that a politician can use to advance a cause.

Politicians are pragmatists. They use anything that works. What they are generally after, though, is: power, money, jurisdiction, territory, and resources...whether or not they posture under the banner of religion...or on a "holy" crusade against it (as was the case with Lenin, Mao, and Pol Pot).

What a powerful motivator religion is (whether you're for or against it) can easily be seen by the number of threads it has given birth to on Mudcat Cafe...and the length of those threads. ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 03:42 PM

Just as a point of interest, Steve, re your last remark to me ~~ I do not, in fact, drink at all: not for any ideological reason (I would probably sip the champagne to drink the toast at a wedding as a matter of courtesy), but just because i find I don't like it much any more, and prefer being clear-headed to being fuzzy (though should add that, post hoc, I feel much relief when I see how involved alcohol is in so much of the nastiness all around...).

Nor do I for that matter suffer very much from headaches, which I was just using as an example.

But I actually think my arguments better than yours; it's these petty design faults which, added up together, seem to me more than anything else to undermine the concept of any all-loving, all-powerful Anybody of Nobodaddy.

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 04:20 PM

If people believe in something like the "concept of an all-loving, all-powerful Anybody of Nobodaddy", MtheGM, it's simply because they're already familiar with that concept. They probably grew up with it around them in family and community. Therefore it's become like home territory to them, and they derive comfort from its familiarity.

The same is true of their instinctive attachment to and affection for things like their national identity, their racial identity, the "home team" in sports events, their country's flag, their language, their accustomed style of dress, their friends, their accustomed ethics, their town, their political party, their family, and everything else that they are accustomed to.

And a great deal of the above is basically arbitrary (meaning someone made it up at some point)...it has only the temporary provisional meaning that people have arbitrarily given to it because others told them to...and it is justifiable and explicable mainly just within its own closed circuit of reality.

And so what? We're all different from one another, and we always will be, and yet the world keeps turning just fine, doesn't it? What's the point of disputing over the differences?


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: DMcG
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 05:14 PM

The problem with a phrase like "an all-loving god" is that most people I've heard use it has only a very narrow interpretation of it. For example I've never heard anyone claim that the god who loves a person might also love the bacteria that causes the final fatal illness of that person. The phrase implicitly carries the human-centric view of the universe that we very gradually dropped from astronomy and biology, for example. The same applies to some of the design faults: some things that are faults when thinking about people in isolation are in fact essential in the wider context. At the most trivial level without death there would be no 'space' for future generations. I am not being Panglossian here; simply saying that maybe the narrow focus will not give the full story and so is not in itself evidence for or against the existence of god (though it may be for some concepts of god)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Art Thieme
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 05:22 PM

Only when Carol's beliefs impacted actually with my life and functioning, as separate from her life, albeit within our marriage, was there any bad friction between us. It was an immature ego driven thing for me. I was too young to be philosophical and/or thoughtful about matters. Emotion was the top dog governing my reactions. Now, though, after all the years, it simply does not matter. --- I think we all must learn to enjoy the friction---knowing that it will generate some heat---and also a hell of a lot of light. The friction and the heat -- but the enlightenment is the payoff of this, yet another, paradox. -- And how we deal with it when it is backed by caring love is simply the name of the game. For this reason I can marvel at the chaotic times we are in now---even while abhorring the pain and suffering. It makes the old adage, "May you live in interesting times" both a curse and a real blessing.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Art Thieme
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 05:35 PM

My mistakes here in taking religious posts by some as a personal threat to me, personally. So I hit back. For that I am sincerely sorry. Now, I generally stay away from religious threads here at Mudcat. Maybe, at this late date, it's about time I was more mature about stuff.

Art


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 05:43 PM

Yet another View of Religion            

Jesusbusters!


Gotta go now .... :-P


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 06:46 PM

Great point, Joe....I think, from what I see, is that, its become 'trendy', at least for so-called liberals, to knock Christianity, as some sort of weirdness not to be tolerated, but to welcome Islam, as a show to others, how 'modernly hipply liberal' they are! Its almost taken a form of the ghetto 'poor', to show off their $300 Nikes...and of course, many 'liberals' have nothing but distaste for anyone who supports the Jews, in Israel. Let's just hope that it is, at best, a passing fad, on the way to maturity!.............Oh, and incidentally, they are also, the same 'open minded' clowns that jump up and down, almost in cartoon form, to scream, 'racist' or 'bigot', to anyone they wish to oppose...when racism or bigotry was NEVER the issue.
It's like they got stuck in a time warp, and are still trying to live out their 'youth'.....only, its gotten very old. I guess its for lack of creative imagination, that perhaps, that they can't distinguish a 'truth', and who is spinning it. If a policy is bad, or false, and someone disagrees, that person is not a bigot or racist, for simply disagreeing. If someone disagrees with the President, it does mean that person is automatically 'racist'...just because the liberal supporter can't think it through, to rebut the other person, on the merits, of the facts...so they resort to attaching some dis-likable tag, to that person. It is extremely immature...almost as if they are afraid of leaving some 'manufactured' comfort zone, and actually learning something. Growing old is not an option. Growing up is!

GfS


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 06:52 PM

It is trendy to attack Christianity. It's also trendy to attack Islam. And it's trendy to attack both the Palestinians and Israel. But these trends are each followed by distinctly different trendy and rabid factions among both the liberal and the conservative crowd....and they're all quite proud of themselves, thank you very much! ;-D There's enough hatred out there for everyone to get a nice piece of the pie.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 07:48 PM

It appeared in one message that Suibhne was taking me to task for something Catholics did "only" eight hundred years ago.

Catholicism is primarily concerned with the supposed death and ressurection of someone who lived "only" 2000 years ago. The Albigensian Crusades are still recent enough to be remembered - likewise the reasons why, which still rest at the very heart of Roman Catholic Theology.

Otherwise, been away from this thread too long - lost track of it entirely.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 09:08 PM

Great point, Joe....I think, from what I see, is that, its become 'trendy', at least for so-called liberals, to knock Christianity, as some sort of weirdness not to be tolerated, but to welcome Islam, as a show to others, how 'modernly hipply liberal' they are! Its almost taken a form of the ghetto 'poor', to show off their $300 Nikes...and of course, many 'liberals' have nothing but distaste for anyone who supports the Jews, in Israel. Let's just hope that it is, at best, a passing fad, on the way to maturity!.............Oh, and incidentally, they are also, the same 'open minded' clowns that jump up and down, almost in cartoon form, to scream, 'racist' or 'bigot', to anyone they wish to oppose...when racism or bigotry was NEVER the issue

There you go, Joe. With friends like this...


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 09:15 PM

even the Spanish Republicans (in the Spanish Civil War) used hatred OF organized religion to motivate their soldiers to fight harder.

This is a very unfair representation of what the Republicans were doing, along with the International Brigades. They were fighting fascism when other nations in Europe were wallowing in complacency, and that fascism came wrapped in a Roman Catholic flag, borne by that daily communicant Francisco Franco, aided by similarly Roman Catholic fascists from outside his own country. What a shame you decided to put this gloss on the battles of those valiant and brave people.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 10:29 PM

Steve, I am a very enthusiastic fan of the Spanish Republican forces, and I wish that they had kicked Franco and the Fascists out of Spain and defeated them utterly.

I was simply observing that a good many of the Spanish Republicans were hostile to the Catholic Church (which was very inclined to ally itself with the Fascist cause)...because they were, that's all. That was the case. And many of them did, indeed, hate the Catholic Church, and many were avowed atheists. That doesn't mean I think their political cause was evil or that I support the Fascists in any way whatsoever, and I am frankly a bit flabbergasted that you would interpret it in that fashion.

It's not ALL-OR-NOTHING with me, Steve. I can be on someone's side politically and still observe that they are not absolutely perfect, pure as the driven snow, and sprung from the throne of God. ;-D

I share your admiration for the Spanish Republicans and their heroic fight against Franco, the Germans (Condor Legion), and the Italian Fascist forces. And, yes, the Catholic Church did much to aid the Fascist cause, and I would have opposed them too for doing so.

I wasn't slandering the Spanish Republican cause in any way in my remarks, just observing that a good many of them hated the church...which is a fact. That doesn't make them evil. It doesn't make them good. It's just a fact, period. I think their political cause was a good one.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 04:00 AM

The Spanish Catholic Church has always been an interesting and confusing situation. It's no coincidence that Ferdinand and Isabella and the Spanish Pope Alexander VI Borgia and the Spanish Inquisition all happened at the same time. 1492 is another "date that will live in infamy" - it's when Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Jews and Moors from Spain. Alexander VI, the father of Lucretia and Cesare Borgia, is generally thought to have been the worst pope of all time.
Spain is the center of Opus Dei (the work of God), the ultraconservative sect that found favor with Pope John Paul II. There are differing opinions about the involvement of Opus Dei with the Franco regime. For a discussion of this, see Wikipedia. I can't find it within myself to trust anyone associated with Opus Dei, but it does appear that Opus Dei has tried to stay out of politics. Some Opus Dei members supported Franco, and some opposed him.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 07:36 AM

I wasn't insinuating in any way that you somehow supported the fascists, LH. Thank you for that more balanced view.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 08:15 AM

"...the Spanish Republicans were hostile to the Catholic Church."

Not just a matter of abstract hatred of the Catholic Church - about 7,000 Catholic clergy, bishops, priests, seminarians and nuns, were killed by Republicans. And that leaves the laity out of the picture. (Plus a number of Basque Catholic clergy etc on the other side, killed by Franco's people.)

Civil Wars are filthy affairs. Massacres of innocent people typically get carried out by both sides, and that certainly happened in Spain.

People tend to concentrate their attention on what "the other side" does - and use it as a way to justify what "their side" does, insofar as it can't be ignored.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 09:01 AM

One aspect of (Christian) religion which bothers me is that it elevates humanity over the rest of Nature. God was supposed to have created Man in His own image and given him dominion over the beasts of the field (or something like that). I think that this is a highly dangerous outlook and, eventually, will lead to the extinction of our own species. In the end an unhealthy, and profoundly damaged environment, will be the death of us.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 09:19 AM

The expression translated as "dominion" in this context is perhaps better translated as "stewardship".


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 09:24 AM

One aspect of (Christian) religion which bothers me is that it elevates humanity over the rest of Nature

That's the only bit I like; those Gnostic undercurrents that filter through RC Theology in implication of a far darker & more substantial mythos that the unsuall guff. There's your Green Man too by the way, Shimrod; Nature afflicting Humanity with animal urges, sin, lust, desire, instinct, disease and ultimately death which is why pre-Reformation Catholic churches & cathedrals are bending down with them...


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 09:30 AM

That aspect of the Christian/Jewish/Muslim religions bothers me too, Shimrod. It seems that the writers of the books which comprise the Old Testament had a particularly man-centered view of things (not only in the sense of placing man above Nature, but also in placing men above women). That has had many unfortunate after-effects on both Nature and women over the last few millenia.

It's an attitude, however, which is changing. The old ideas of man's supremacy over nature and the supremacy of males over females are now being challenged and rejected by many people within those 3 religions.

It's an odd notion to think that "God created Man in his own image". Several odd assumptions there! Why does God have to look like anything? Or does "image" mean inner self rather than outer body? Or why might not everything be said to be created in God's image if anything is? And why is God assumed to be male when God might be a principle that is completely beyond gender...or might comprise both genders? It seems very unlikely that an exclusively male deity would create a world divided into male and female beings in approximately equal numbers! If "He" didn't already have a female aspect within "Himself", then how could "He" bring it forth in others? ;-) Odd that that didn't occur to the patriarchs of the Children of Israel, isn't it?

When I read such a passage, what immediately seems obvious to me is that it sprang from a rather primitive tribal culture where older men ran everything and had authority over everything...therefore they assumed that anything godly would closely resemble themselves, only with some improvements. ;-D So they worked up an idea of God which looked a lot like them, only "He" was bigger and better than they were. I shake my head in wonder that billions of people thousands of years later would let the self-promoting fantasies of a bunch of old Hebrew patriarchs rule their minds, but it has no bearing whatsoever on whatever idea I might have about "God", spirituality, life after death or other interesting subjects along that line. I do not regard the Judeo-Christian religious heritage as being the origin of spiritual ideas about God...it's just one old set of opinions about it, that's all. I'm sure there were many other ideas about God around long before the Jewish tribes had anything to say about the matter. They are Johnny-come-latelys in that field, not the inventors of it. It is the nature of human beings to theorize about a higher purpose, life after death, and all forms of spiritual inquiry, and it did not begin with the writers of the old Jewish holy books.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 09:44 AM

If humans were in any way Natural, we'd still be living in the woods howling at the moon and dying of diseases you can knock on the head with a simple prescription these days. Can we have it all ways? I doubt it. Our Unnaturalness is interal to our humanity, and I for one would have been dead long ago were it not for drugs, music, technology and other aspects on our Non-Natural culture.

And I doubt it has anything to do with innate sexism which seems all too Natural a thing to me, at least it does once Man had figured out that sexual intercourse had something to do with procreation, then we got hung up male bloodlines, which (out of necessity) meant controlling the sexual behavior of women. Sad but true.

God looks like us because we made him in our image; it took a while to get there, from basic animism and pagan pantheons, to the sort of Rock 'n' Roll Duality of the Western Tradition (much Atheism included) which afflicts us to this day.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 09:55 AM

...had figured out that sexual intercourse had something to do with procreation

I've always though that was a remarkably clever bit of figuring out.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 10:12 AM

I don't think of God as "looking like" anything, Sweeney. ;-) And I don't see why anyone else would either, but I guess that's up to them, isn't it? Yeah, sure, Jehovah was made in the image of a bunch of old Hebrew patriarchs. That is bloody obvious. But Jehovah's not the only idea of "God" that is out there, and they don't all involve something being made in man's image...some of them involve observing the powers of Nature, for instance. Others involve still more subtle concepts than that.

As for male bloodline...doesn't it make more sense to trace bloodline through the females, since there is absolutely NO doubt about who the mother of the child is???

There have been some civilizations who have traced bloodline and family name through the females, and it seems like a wise and eminently practical system to me. It works. It allows for no mistakes. It is definitely the way to go! ;-) Who the heck cares who the father is anyway? Men are like bees pollinating flowers, many bees can pass by, but the flower is the source of the next generation.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 11:24 AM

"The expression translated as "dominion" in this context is perhaps better translated as "stewardship"."

So, McGrath does ths mean that the fate of our environment and our species may hang on the inexact translation of a single word?

"If humans were in any way Natural, we'd still be living in the woods ..."

Hmmm! Possibly. But I think that our intelligence gives us a responsibility to exercise our "stewardship" in as non-damaging a way as possible - something that we are currently failing at rather badly. And don't forget our species will ultimately pay the price for its own folly, while 'Nature' will just carry on until the Sun becomes a red giant.

I can't help thinking of a phrase I heard, a few days ago, in connection with the tragedy in Japan. It went something like this: "As far as Nature is concerned humans are just 'ants with cars'" (!)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 11:51 AM

There is a strand of Jewish tradition which regards God as being hermaphroditic, so that when Adam was first created, he had both physical attributes. It was only later when Adam desired a companion that the original being was divided into two sexes.

The description is also "in his own image and likeness" translating two different Hebrew concepts. The implication of "likeness" is that God left creation uncompleted, and passed the responsibility to mankind, as also stewardship.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 11:52 AM

Maybe ants are capable of more than we give them credit for. ;-)

I think we're just as natural as can be, but we have complicated minds and those minds lead us into all kinds of unwise situations regarding Nature...and regarding our general behaviour. Is our behaviour unnatural? Yeah, you could say that...but it has its origins in Nature, it's just gotten stretched out of context by our complex minds which have invented money, sophisticated weaponry, machinery, politics, and all kinds of strange ideas that we pursue toward various objectives we've decided are important.

Religion usually seems to start out as an effort (by some spiritual teacher) to return people to a balanced and wise way of living. Then it soon gets established as a hierarchy, a power system, a tradition...and then the trouble begins...as it does with all human hierarchies and power systems. Their primary objective becomes to enlarge and extend themselves. That's the problem in politics, it's the problem with nations, it's the problem with our economy, and it's the problem with organized religions...but they all started out with some positive objectives in mind too.

So which part will one choose to focus on? The positive or the negative aspect?


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 12:22 PM

A lot of difficulties have arisen from the tendency of some people to base their religion on the assumption that the Bible was written in English in the 17th century...


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 12:50 PM

"I think we're just as natural as can be, but we have complicated minds and those minds lead us into all kinds of unwise situations regarding Nature...and regarding our general behaviour. Is our behaviour unnatural? Yeah, you could say that...but it has its origins in Nature, it's just gotten stretched out of context by our complex minds which have invented money, sophisticated weaponry, machinery, politics, and all kinds of strange ideas that we pursue toward various objectives we've decided are important."

A brilliant summation, LH, if I may say so!


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 01:07 PM

Have just read through all the postings on this thread, and isn't it excellent to see so many different viewpoints expressed and discussed in a mature and genuinely courteous fashion? No nastiness, some robust disagreement, but no insults and no abuse. This is how it should always be!


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Lighter
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 01:54 PM

Any religion worthy of belief has to promote humanitarian principles that ultimately benefit everyone. That includes unbelievers.

To be an actual "religion," it would help if it claimed a "believable" divine sanction. And it would have to promise to reward good deeds and punish bad ones, just to keep people on the straight and narrow. Obviously this would have to happen in an afterlife because it doesn't seem to happen here.

Many popular (though technically often heretical) interpretations of the monotheistic faiths approach this condition. However, they are often ridiculed as "New Age Nonsense." Sometimes your very religious neighbors will go further than mere ridicule.

But this ideal faith would have to be founded on that "believable" divine sanction. Otherwise, no go. Because not everyone wants to love his or her neighbor. Unless the neighbor is really good-lookin'.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 02:08 PM

since there is absolutely NO doubt about who the mother of the child is???

My point exactly; the way of ensuring that is by enslaving women - hence the current moral entrenchments & double standards, most of which are enshrined the twisted theology of the RCC. As I keep saying though procreation is little more than a VERY random by-product of Sexual Intercourse the immediate function of of which is pure animal lust assuagement - something else the RCC can't quite handle. In its denial of contraception as being somehow Un-Nastural & Un-Godly it places people into the hands of ignorance, folklore and hearsay - and back street abortionists, naturally.

Nature! Well we've seen Mother Nature at work in Japan and I suppose there isn't anyone here whose lives haven't been torn apart by illness. I'm not to sentimental about it personally and look forward to the day when we suss Nature out and really get creative. The next stage of evolution will be engineered by Humanity - the Transfiguring Alchemists of Nature, as we have been all along. Shame things get messed up the way they do, but the alternative is quite unthinkable really.

God is a human concept though; as human as Myth, Music, Magic and Language. We twist the facts into folklore / superstition on one hand to fill in the gaps, on another for purposes of mind control. Take away humanity and God vanishes too; take away God on the other hand, and we might all breathe a huge sigh of relief. But can we do that I wonder? Overnight?

Keep watching the skies, LH - out there I reckon there's a race of ETs that will make the Borg look like the Eden-bound followers of Dr Sevrin (Star Trek Episode #75 / 21 February 1969), like Giger's Alien with technology. Talking of which - isn't there a prequel on the way?

(quick search on Google)

No! Ridley Scott has morphed it into something called Prometheus due for release next year... Still, something to look forward to, eh?


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 07:30 PM

We Are the Other People


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Bill D
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 08:41 PM

Oh my... The Other People must confuse the J.W.s terribly..... but IF one accepts the Bible, one must come to term with it....and Cain's linage is important..


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 08:48 PM

Thank you Bill, I had an interesting discussion with a Texan Fundy Lutheran friend a while ago - that idea IS quite old in Theology... before the author picked it up ...


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 09:15 PM

The article about "the Other People" is marvelous! It does a good job at pointing out the conflicts between what are clearly 2 separate creation stories in the Bible about the origions of Man, from 2 separate cultural sources, and which do not tell the same story at all. Verrrry interesting! I know some J.W.'s, and I don't know how they would get around this particular problem, but I'm sure they would...somehow...because they've got an answer for everything. ;-) I don't think they've got the right answer, mind you, but I don't particularly care, because what they believe doesn't hurt me in any way at all...nor does what I consider likely or unlikely (I don't speak in terms of "belief") hurt them.

Belief is always an act of faith, in my opinion, whether it's belief in religions, scientific theories, political theories, medical theories, or philosophical theories. Knowledge is knowledge, not belief. Belief is faith. It is the assumption that something must be true, rather than the direct knowledge that it is true.

I don't believe that 1 + 2 = 3 for instance. I KNOW it does. I don't believe that water exists and flows to the lowest available level (in a gravitational field). I KNOW it does. I KNOW these things by direct observation.

I neither believe nor disbelieve in a theory like Global Warming...one that a vast number of people now believe in...because I don't have enough direct knowledge about it to know for certain if it is a correct theory. I look at it on a basis of probabilities, therefore...and we can argue about those till the cows come home! No thanks. ;-D

I try to work with knowledge, direct observation, and assessing probabilities....not with holding "beliefs". Beliefs are a statment of faith, and I am not much interested in being dogmatic about faith...nor suffering other's dogmatic assertions of faith either.

If you aren't 100% sure of something...and you have no basis for 100% surety...then don't pretend you are by saying, "I believe that...."

Just say, "I think it's very probable." Then you're being honest about it, and admitting that you still might not know everything there is to know about it.

I consider reincarnation probable. I consider evolution probable. I consider life after death probable. I consider it probable that Lee Harvey Oswald was not "a lone assassin" and that other people were involved in killing JFK. That doesn't mean I believe in any of those things, though, because I don't KNOW them beyond any shadow of a doubt. They remain under question in my mind. The only things I utterly 100% believe in are the things I know beyond any shadow of a doubt. And I can only know them by direct experience, proven over and over again. Thus, I know that water is wet, it flows downhill, it boils at a certain temperature, etc...and I know I'm getting older. That's not belief. It's not faith. It's knowledge.

I think there may be something spiritual, some factor in existence, which many people have, in their effort to explain it or label it, called "God" or some other term like that. But I don't know for sure. Therefore I stay open to the possibility that it could be, and I don't get my jollies by either denying what I haven't been able to confirm...or by insisting it's true either. Why would I when I do either when I don't KNOW??? If I did deny it, I'd be making a statement of faith, based on my own preferences. If I insisted on believing in it, I'd be doing the same thing, making a statement of faith, but from the opposite perspective.....pretending certainty on the basis of faith, not knowledge.

I know there are ants and spiders. I know there are dreams (having dreamt them). I know there is anger. I have felt it. I don't know if there is a "God" and I don't know if there isn't a "God", and I won't know unless I have a direct, conscious encounter of an undeniable sort with..."God". If I do, then I'll know. If I don't, it remains hypothetical...it has been neither proven nor disproven.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 12:38 AM

Well you had all better KNOW that I am here if you don't all want to wake up one morning with your eyes all full of Bolognese sauce ...

Your Noway Imaginary Friend The Almighty Flying Spaghetti Monster


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 12:44 AM

Until I directly experience you, old sport, I am not going to give much concern to that... ;-) Go ahead. Threaten me with meatballs and antipasto! Do your worst.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 12:56 AM

Curses!! Discovered!!!

Exit·in·Confusion

YNIFTAFSM


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: ollaimh
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 01:07 AM

i won't state my religion, but i had both catholics and protestants back a generation or two. i am gratefull that the battles betwen them made my parents atheists or agnostics. my mother was a doctrinaire atheist and my father an agnostic who thought religion does restrain the lawless tendencies of the masses.

i was therefrore free to chose. i do not beleve that faith leads to anything but ignorance unless accompanied by real meditative experience and real insight thus garnered. otherwise it leads to detusion and bigotry. and i believe most people need at least several ears of meditation all day or decades for several hours a day to get this insight. prayer and and hope and faith is all fine and good but you are fooling yourself and cheating your true nature if you think there is any short cut.

as a person who was involved in unon, enviornmental and native battles i also believe thaty the anglcan, catholic and mainsteam protestant churches are so sullied by their association with the genocide of the native residential school in canada america and australia. killing so many innocents, that they should be disbanded and start over . that are tainted by vile anti christian criminality and abuse so badly they can never be saved. further more i have very limited respect for the ethics and morals of anyone who voluntarily assocuiates them selves with these criminal genocidal churches. i understand those who were brought in when young and need the religion to deal with the vagaries of lfe, but to voluntarily participate in groups that have done these terribe things,other than to seek religious solace is despicable to me. sorry joe but the murder of these innocents and the endless coverups are just too too much. these are wicked and worldly churches mascarading as holy. again i understand the need for religious solace.,but really, we are living in a barbaricworld and these wicked churches are the soul of that barbarism.

i note that the lttle group of canadian natives--and one american native, that goes to the vatican every year to exorcise the demons who tortured their children didn't get arrested this year. the vatican usually jails them summirraly but this year they were too afraid of another media debacle and they ignored them--not that many notice them. the murdered of history trouble few conscoinses--sadly.

so if people think that too cinfrontational well get a consconce.
how many have to die for these churches before they make amends?


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Janie
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 01:20 AM

Lovely and thoughtful.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 01:31 AM

I was brought up somewhat similarly, I think, ooliamh, at least in the respect that my parents were atheists or agnostics (really they were atheists as far as I can see), but they never really even thought about religion and hardly ever spoke of it. We didn't belong to any religion and we didn't go to churches nor were we affected by any religion.

What my parents' attention was on was things like: civil laws, money, property, normal social morality, acquiring possessions, family, marriage, business, and all that everyday practical and social stuff that everyone deals with.

So I was also free to choose. I eventually chose to study spirituality but not to join any specific religion. I study spirituality a great deal, and I see no need to belong to any specific religion, as it would put me inside a little box if I did.

I deny nothing that I have no way of disproving. I "believe" nothing that I have no way of knowing for certain. I consider all possibilities as fairly as I can, and I keep investigating them as best I can.

I am no enemy of religion, I just don't belong to it, that's all. And I am no enemy of science either. I respect both science and spirituality. I respect religions whenever they do good, but not when they do harm. They mostly do some of both, so it's a mixed picture.

The religious/philosophical traditions that interest me the most are Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and the Native American religions. I feel more kinship to them than I do to the Judeo-Christian-Muslim triumvirate...and to a variety of other world religions. I do think they all have some good points, though, and it is the good points of them which mostly interest me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 05:02 AM

Joe,
You appear to be missing the point.
I have worked with Christians, mostly Catholics , all my musical life.
Some of those peaople have been the kindest, gentlest, most wonderful people I have ever met, and this goes for members of my own family - also Catholics.
I have no doubt that (especially with the older generation), their religion played a major part in making them the people they are/were.
On the other hand, I have a great problem in equating these people with the behaviour of, say, Father Brendan Smyth, the serial paedophile rapist priest, who, to me, doesn't deserve to be counted as being from the same species, let alone the same faith.
Perhaps it's time you took a closer look at the damage that has been, and is still being done to religion by your own church instead of reiterating that YOU ARE NOT LIKE THAT.
Whatever my own personal views on religion might be, I know that you are not like that, but there are many of those who are the public face of your church WHO ARE EXACTLY LIKE THAT.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 05:56 AM

One of the principles of the Reformed tradition is 'ecclesia reformata semper reformandaque' (the reformed church, always in need of reformation). I note a Roman Catholic cardinal also used it not too long ago.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Patsy
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 09:11 AM

The reason that I would have preferred my son to have gone to a nearby Catholic school a little bit further away it had a good reputation for education and discipline and it also had a subsidised little mini bus pick-up service for school children which I thought was great especially as there had been spates of child snatching at that time in the area. But my son ended up going to the local crumbling village C.E church school instead against my better judgement, I wish I had stuck to my guns on that one whether I was a believer or not.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 10:12 AM

""Surely, if we are the summit of his creation, he could have designed us a hell of a lot better ~~ not having this peculiarly inconvenient necessity for constantly pissing & shitting, for instance.""

Summit of creation?   A purely human conceit, and based on what?

Certainly not on evidence.

Every shred of scientific evidence points to our eventual destruction, if not by our own efforts, then by natural changes to which we finally fail to adapt.

Far from being the summit of creation, I'd say we were summat about halfway to the peak.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: freda underhill
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 10:30 AM

I grew up in an athiest family, and was quite intolerant of Christians and Christianity. My father was a Catholic who was "cast out" by his Irish Australian family when he gave up his faith. He was a rational, intelligent and very humane man who I adored, and I I thought all Christians were like those who had hurt my father.

It wasn't til my late 30s that I recognised that I was anti-Christian. Meeting people who didn't fit my stereotyped views helped me realise I was looking through a funnel. And people who made a significant impact challenged my prejudices.

The Sisters of Mercy here do fantastic work wioth prisoners. Catholics here were working with people with Aids, the homeless and refugees. I have met some very brave and outstanding Catholics working in these fields. What is a philosophy worth? It's what you do with it, and Christians have been at the forefront of social change, including the union movement, which developed out of a bunch of troublemaking Methodists in Tolpuddle.

My own experience has been through meditation and the influence of Hinduism and Buddhism. Buddhism in particular I find fascinating. No focus on deity, more on understanding and insight into managing life, as in the Tao Te Ching. I appreciate these philosophies, but I know that Western religious people have led the way with social service.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: freda underhill
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 10:42 AM

Care about people's approval
and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.

(Tao Te Ching)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 12:11 PM

mm A few interesting posts since I last looked in, and a reply from Joe O. to my earlier points.

Also interesting to note that Eliza reckons this has been a grown up debate rather than from the nursery. I suppose Joe's original post was to invite honest debate rather than crucifixes at ten paces.

However.....

There is a whiff of people not happy that they are being judged by association. if you are a member of a religion, you don't like to be seen in terms of the more odious fringe of that particular cult. i can see your point, really can. I am an ex miner, a football fan and drive round in a flash car c/w Oakley shades covering my ugly mush. All these invite stereotyping, and I don't personally identify with being a pit moggy, hooligan or yuppie. I do accept though that people may sometimes judge me as such and (hopefully) be pleasantly pleased when I behave in polite company.

Same with religion. I am (I have said before) somewhat jealous of people who can, through ignorance or deep thought, believe that there is a dude with a big white beard looking out for them. I don't have that and have no more than the big zero to look forward to.

But... Most people with religious conviction seem, (to me at any rate) to be very precious about their belief and have problems with other people dismissing their viewpoint. Many wish that we all shared their belief, as of course, their teaching is that the God dude exists therefore he affects you whether you believe in him or not.

That is unfair if you ask me. He only affects me in that

1. My wife's mother and brother think I am evil because their daughter no longer goes to church.

2. Certain products cannot be purchased at certain times on a Sunday.

Neither are positive effects, so no wonder I reject the idea of religion having more influence. I donated to the secular society recently, not because I want to join a crusade as such, but to help in their quest to ensure the upcoming census reflects the overwhelming apathy that the bishops construe as being active Christian, and strengthen their role in society.

Anyway, if I hear anybody being labelled as "pious" I can't help thinking they mean "sanctimonious"

If you want to know about the TRUE belief, read up on we pastafarians. I don't know what we are supposed to believe, but I joined the church anyway so I could put it on forms that ask for religion. If you do read up, can you tell me what I am supposed to believe?


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 01:02 PM

Excellent posts, Freda! I went through a process quite similar to yours. There was certainly an Anti-Christian undercurrent in my parents and in my upbringing...not that it was very overt...but it was there in the form of a sort of humorous (if tolerant) contempt for church people and religious people. It took me until my middle 20s to become aware of this kneejerk form of judgement I was applying to people just because they belonged to a religion, and I've been working to get rid of carrying that prejudice ever since, because, like any other prejudice, it's an ugly thing.

I am well aware of the bad things done by religious people over the ages. And the good things too. And I am well aware of the bad things done by anti-religious people over the ages. And the good things too.

But I have no basis for making automatic negative judgements upon other individuals because they are or are not "religious". Nor do I have to take sides in some sort of crusade to either promote religion or stamp it out.

People have to look at their own grudges that they've been carrying around for most of their lives, and question them stringently. Most people don't do that. They just go on carrying the same old grudges until the day they die and inflicting them on whoever crosses their path. That's not thinking behaviour, and it doesn't help resolve anything. It just repeats the negativity of the past and produces more negativity in the future. It's an indulgence that the indulger would be wise to let go of. If he did, he'd be a lot more enjoyable to be around.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: freda underhill
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 06:52 PM

thanks LH, and Joe for this interesting thread. nothing like a good ramble through people's minds to while away the evening!

(Pastafarian seems a good philosophy to get your teeth into!)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 04:30 AM

Hi, Jim Carroll-
I tend to believe most of the allegations against priests who molest and bishops who cover up molestation, and other allegations of misconduct in the Catholic Church. This is the stuff that gets in the press, and the press seems to be recycling old stories when they don't get new ones. As a result, this gives a disproportionately negative view of the Catholic Church, and that's what's unfair. When the misdeeds are discussed directly instead of as generalizations, the discussion moves much closer to fairness.
The general tenor of discussion at Mudcat tends to classify all religious people as mindlessly obedient sheep, and that's just not the case. Many of us are quite independent.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 07:36 AM

Ah, but how much does a religion wish you to be independent Joe?

You see, the problem is that the mainstream religions are mainstream because of long history, corporate structures and integration in originally feudal societies.

the role of religion was to tame the masses and keep them obedient. Jam tomorrow and all that. (Or specifically, "Blessed are the meek" "easier for a camel ..." and other ways of keeping you in your place.)

The view of your faith as you articulate it, (and do it well I may add) is your adaptation, picking the parts that are relevant and ignoring the reasons for its survival over the last couple of thousand years.

Seriously, I would contend that to be true to your faith, it would be difficult to be anything other than the mindless obedient sheep you disdain.

Sadly, the paedophiles who choose the cloth know this and have exploited it throughout the ages.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: freda underhill
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 08:00 AM

We all think we see the world objectively, as it is. If others don't agree we think that either they have not been exposed to the relevant facts or else they are blinded by their belief or philosophy. In other words, "everyone else is prejudiced, except me, I see things as they are". That view then allows some to point the finger.

It's a pain dealing with other people's judgements and prejudices and only the most noble or patient can be unaffected. But fingerpointers have to live with themselves all the time - that's their own punishment!

:-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Ed T
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 03:57 PM

""Wait! I'm not like that at all.""

It would be odd for anyone here to feel that other members would know what they are "like" or what their "viewpoints" or lives are from posts? I suppose we all have some internal idea what a person may be like? But, I suspect it would be wrong on many counts, if people met (which some have done so)?

We only see small snapshots of what others post. We read what they post and what we interpret they are saying (or, intending to say) on topics (threads) that we have an interest in entering. We get to see some of their posting logic, (or lack of it) a glimpse of their temperment and respect for others (or lack of it).

Unless a Mudcat relationship goes beyond that, I suspect we don't know what most people are like at all? When I meet people I have communicated with over the phone or internet, I have mostly had them pegged very different than what they are in real life. But, is that surprising?

At a minimum, I expect few here "know it all" yet? I would be surprised if most at Mudcat have gone beyond learning new things from others and are open to new concepts and ideas? I have personally found cases where my perspective has changed on a topic by quite a bit after doing some research on my own, because of a thread topic.

So, Joe, but I have no idea what you "are like" in real life, beyond what you have posted, that is.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 06:11 PM

"I would contend that to be true to your faith, it would be difficult to be anything other than the mindless obedient sheep you disdain.

It's not supposed to be easy.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: DMcG
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 07:00 PM

I think it slightly more accurate to say religion is often content or even find things easier if its members are 'mindless sheep' than that it particularly encourages that situation. But that is true of a huge number of organizations: whatever they say about empowerment most big businesses prefer that only a small percentage of their staff think for themselves. If someone does want to think religious tenets through more deeply, though, my personal experience is that most clergy (since Vatican II anyway) have encouraged debate and discussion rather than tried to suppress it. I can think of one priest I had who didn't (who was already in his 70s when VII came), but all the rest did.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 01:24 AM

Yes, virtually ALL big organizations find things easier if their members are 'mindless sheep'. The military want that. Big business wants that. Governments want that. Almost every human organization that exists on a large scale works hard to produce conformity, obedience, predictability in its members...mindless sheep, in other words.

If someone accuses religion of doing it, but seems to forget that governments, business, and the military all do it too, then he's just making it quite clear that he has a major chip on his shoulder in regards to religion.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 02:29 AM

I think that most of the "mainline" religions have gone beyond the "mindless sheep" paradigm in the last fifty years or more. Certainly, there are still people in every religion who want to be sheep; and there are leaders seeking followers who are sheep - but for the most part, the Catholics and "mainline" religions have gotten beyond that.
Even the recent Catholic documents on abortion and birth control are quite balanced. They are written in a rational fashion that invites discussion. Catholics still excommunicate members, but they're much more polite about it nowadays. Usually, the stiffest punishment the Catholic Church administers nowadays, is revoking a theologian's license to teach.

Many of the evangelical pastors still use "harangue" as a technique, and seem to demand far greater adherence to their preaching.

I think it's fair to say that some people have always been sheep, and they always will be sheep. They're afraid to think for themselves, and there will always be some leader eager to lead them.

But - and this is important - people who have the capacity to think for themselves, have always thought for themselves. St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), child of Spanish Jewish parents who converted to Christianity, was an intellectual giant who combined Jewish and Christian mysticism. She was threatened by the Spanish Inquisition, but she prevailed. In the process, she and St. John of the Cross reformed the Carmelite Order, which had become rich, lazy, and corrupt.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Patsy
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 09:00 AM

I wonder sometimes if it is possible to go against a religious or non-religious point of view or belief because it is one that your parents held, like a rebellion of a kind. For example, an old heavy metal rocker who might have grown children now might not necessarily want to follow that path in lifestyle dress or anything else like that behaving quite conservative in style or alternatively against everything that the church stands for because it might be equated by strong parental views rather than the church itself. I am not criticising one side or another just wondering if it mostly to do with parential or family influences.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Bill D
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 01:08 PM

"Catholics still excommunicate members, but they're much more polite about it nowadays. "

sorry, Joe... but that makes me alternately giggle and sigh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 02:57 PM

Patsy, I think it depends on how the family religion was presented to the offspring. I had a colleague whose parents were so cruelly and repressively Roman Catholic that he spent a very unhappy childhood. Consequently he loathes anything to do with religion in general and Rome in particular! On the other hand, I have lovely memories of going to Church (C of E) with my mother for Evensong and snuggling up to her during the Sermon. I used to love the old words of the prayers, "We have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep..." and "Oh Lord open thou our lips, and our mouths shall show forth thy praise." I was only about five, but I adored all that and knew the responses by heart. Naturally, this must have played a part in my faith throughout my life. I still go to church every week and my mother's example is always before me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 05:14 PM

I doubt if the experience of Eliza's friend really had too much to do with the fact that her parents were Catholics, rather than with the fact that they were her parents, with their own particular hangups. They could have been atheists, Jews, Muslims or Methodists and the outcome might have been very similar.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 05:31 PM

I see what you mean, McGrath of Harlow, any parental cruelty or repression puts a child off whatever the parents stand for. And conversely, one tends to choose similar paths to those of a much-loved parent. It isn't a religious matter but could apply to any opinion or viewpoint. When it concerns a faith, does it come under 'indoctrination' if one bases ones beliefs on childhood influences? I've often wondered if I would have been a C of E adherent if my parents had been, say, atheists? The true test would be a person who has a Damascus moment after being totally anti-religion into adulthood, and becomes a Christian or whatever afterwards. I admit I had many influences on me during my formative years, including a lovely Protestant nun, Sister Vernon, and a sweet old lady who taught Sunday School, Mrs Francis. You could say I was 'programmed' by these women, and my mother, to become a Christian. Their influence was so marked that I still think of them today with affection and gratitude.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Greg F.
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 05:52 PM

They could have been atheists, Jews, Muslims or Methodists...

But they weren't.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 06:35 PM

No, they weren't - but other parents who failed their children were. Sadly parents can do that, whatever their religious, political, social or ethnic affiliation.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 07:48 PM

I think it does have "mostly to do with parential or family influences", Patsy. Just as you surmised.

In my case, I started out life as an atheist. Why? Well, because my parents were, of course, and that was a viewpoint I was very familiar with and comfortable with at the age when you imagine that your parents know everything. ;-) Later on you find out that they don't!

When that grim and stunning realization hits at around the onset of puberty usually, you may still go on basically playing out the same set of beliefs your parents passed on to you...or you may rebel against some of those beliefs and reject them. I did carry on a good deal of what my parents bequeathed me, and I rejected a good deal of it, depending on various different factors...mainly I rejected what I felt was irrational or of no use to me.

One thing they bequeathed me was a subtle but nasty form of prejudice and amused contempt toward anyone who belonged to a religion. I became aware of that in my 20s, took a long look at it, and decided to dump that attitude. I still have a certain suspicion of churches and mainline religion, admittedly, but I don't leap to the kneejerk assumption that people with religious or spiritual beliefs must be ignorant or stupid, because I've met far too many who are anything but.

I became very interested in spirituality as it relates to:

- ethics
- self-awareness
- relating to others
- relating to society
- relating to a sense of one's own identity and purpose
- managing consciousness
- achieving self-discipline, compassion, fairness, love, etc.

I have little or no interest in:

- religious rules
- religious power structures
- religious authorities
- religious labelling
- religious ceremonies and rituals

It's the inner person that interests me, not the outer trappings, rituals, labels or credentials. And that's why I pursue spirituality on a personal basis, but I do not belong to a religion.

I regard atheism as a faithb-based doctrine of its own. It is, quite simply, the faith that something other people believe in does NOT exist! ....without any corroborative evidence one way or the other... The firm atheist, like the firm religious fundamentalist, thinks he already knows what is real and what isn't. He doesn't, though. He knows about enough to fill one teacup, and he's standing in front of an ocean.

As a wise man once said: "The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

People should admit how little they know! Most are absolutely unwilling to do that, but they'll tell you all day long how they KNOW there is "no God"...or else they KNOW that their favorite version of God is the ONLY true God out there.

I call that extreme vanity, in both cases.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 01:53 AM

Joe says: "Catholics still excommunicate members, but they're much more polite about it nowadays."

Bill says: sorry, Joe... but that makes me alternately giggle and sigh.


Joe responds: I think my usual response is grinding my teeth, but sometimes I'm able to muster up some gallows humor.

Luckily, the political machinations in Rome and in bishops' offices have very little effect on my life in the Catholic Church. I belong to a congregation of nice people who hold me in high regard (with the occasional exception of the pastor, with whom I have a love-hate relationship). I work at a women's center where people think I can do no wrong, and I'm an associate member of a community of Mercy nuns who treat me like a prince. And I'm on my way home from a Los Angeles gathering of 40,000 Catholics that gave me some solid intellectual and spiritual stimulation - and a lot of fun and good music.

So, all in all, my experience as a Catholic is very positive.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Patsy
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 07:14 AM

Little Hawk I was interested to read the forth paragraph down, one thing they bequeathed to me, nasty subtle predudices .........this was how my parents were only the other way around as C of E Christians. They have always had such a fixed opinionated attitude about everything regarding other forms of religion, orientation, morality etc. over the years especially in my teens it drove me to distraction. They have always been good caring parents despite all of that but now that they are elderly I would rather let whatever they say ride over rather than confront it or make an issue of it but it still has me ticking the (non-religious) box on a any form.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 01:36 PM

Patsy - Yeah, I bet. ;-D Subtle prejudice of that sort is found quite commonly among both the religious and the non-religious, and they dutifully attempt to pass it on to their children. I can relate to your frustration and annoyance regarding that.

Those forms which ask if you're "religious" or "non-religious" are annoying too....because they force a person to choose between 2 simplistic answers, 2 opposites, either one of which may be a misleadind answer!

They should have a 3rd box to tick that says: "I think you just asked me a stupid question, and I'm not going to answer it."


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 04:03 PM

"As a result, this gives a disproportionately negative view of the Catholic Church,"
Which is greatly outbalanced by the fact that the two reports on clericl abuse were greatly limited by the period covered in time and the areas investigated.
Not only are there numbers of areas calling for enquiries to be held in their diocese, but whole institutions have been deliberately omitted because of the can of worms they would open up - The Magdelene Laundries, for instance. It appears that abuses have been going on nationwide and possibly for centuries. It is quite possible that Northern Ireland will hold its own enquiry this year and European countries such as Malta and Belgium are now becoming aware that widespread abuse was happening on a large enough scale to merit their own enquiries.   
You may, rather condescendingly IMO, "tend to believe most of the allegations against priests", but I don't think you begin to understand either the extent nor the depth to which these events have effected Irish life.
I was in on a conversation between two volunteer workers who have devoted much of their spare time to working with children, one on sport, the other on music. They were describing how it was now forbidden to associate with four children or less unchaperoned - sad but inevitable.
I used to think that non-denominational education, where catholicism was taught as a philosophy alongside other world religions, was a pipe-dream on my part; now I believe I was being unduely passimistic.
One thing is certain, the church will never again be allowed to wheedle its way into the minds and lives of children in the way it has up to now - thank..... er!!!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 04:34 PM

Great, Jim. ;-) Now if we could just do something about the government, the military, the marketing industries, the mass media, the fashion industry, and the drug companies wheedling their way into the minds of our children...

All of them doing it, you may note, for either money (in most cases)...or power...or both of those put together.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Wesley S
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 05:17 PM

Little Hawk - Good list. But you left out Barney the Purple Dinosaur.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 06:18 PM

Ah!!! Yes, I did. Major oversight. ;-D I am definitely in favour of liberating children from Barney's baleful influence.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 08:19 PM

Wesley!

Say not his name three times, lest he appear!


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 08:22 PM

Anything but that!!! (crossing myself nervously...)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 01:27 AM

I love you, you love me......click for Gargoyle's most popular threads.

Jim, how can you tell I'm condescending when I say I "tend to believe most of the allegations against priests"? I suppose it's an endless battle - how much investigation is enough? How much retribution is enough? How long after a crime is committed, is it worthwhile to pursue it? Everyone who breathes Irish air has ancillary responsibility for what happened - who do you blame, and how much do you make them pay?

You can pursue crimes forever and still not have justice satisfied. You can consume a nation with an ever-broadening witch hunt. But at what point does retribution begin to destroy the very thing it seeks to heal?

There is absolutely no doubt in my my mind that these were horrible crimes, and that they were widespread. But what can and should be done about them now?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 04:07 AM

"I "tend to believe most of the allegations against priests"
Sorry Joe, but the whole phrase oozes condescention, to me at least.
Your 'tending to believe' suggests that there might be some lingering doubt.
There is no doubt at all that these crimes were committed.
There is no doubt at all that the church - from top to bottom - facilitated these crimes and colluded in hiding them so the criminals might continue their abusive behaviour - for decades, in some cases, and, when they finally were discovered, remain unpunished.
There is no doubt at all that the the church as a body is continuing to hinder further investigations into the crimes, as they have done from the very beginning.
There is no doubt at all that little more than lip-service has been paid to the part played by the church as a organisation in the whole sordid affair, and this being the case, those victims continue to suffer by being treated as 'a problem to be solved' rather than the victims of a horrendous crime.
The only remaining doubt is the enormity of the crimes and how long they have been going on.
These are not the crimes of individuals; they are crimes committed by the church as a body - the only thing that is in doubt is how much more remains to be discovered.
There is little, if any "recycling of old stories", (another phrase which casts doubt on the seriousness and the extent of these crimes); you make it sound as if the media are scraping the bottom of the sensation barrel to keep the affair alive. We still know very little about the cases that have been uncovered so far - the Brendan Smyth affair, recently aired here on television, only hit the fan because of the depths of the man's depravity and the lengths to which the church as an organisation went in covering up his crimes - he actually caused the fall of an Irish government. He never once showed anything but contempt for his victims and died in prison after serving only two years of his sentence.
What should happen now?
The church must throw open its books to the world in order that we know who these people are, what they did and to what extent the church knowingly allowed it to happen - the holocaust victims of the Nazis were granted at least that - eventually (I have heard the abuses being referred to as 'Ireland's second holocaust - the Great Famine being the first).
Whether the victims of the atrocities are paid compensation and how much, should be decided openly and include full consulation with those victims and anybody else effected adversely by the affair; a full recognition of the events would at least restore some dignity to their lives.
And finally - something that is starting to happen slowly - the church must play no part, certainly no compulory part, in the education of children, and be no more than spiritual guides to those who voluntarily seek them out for advice - which is what they should always have been.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 04:21 AM

Jim, I think we're going to have to agree to disagree. I believe all the allegations published in the official reports from Ireland, but I don't believe all allegations from all claimants. A small number of the stories just don't hold up to scrutiny, and appear to come from greedy people seeking a fat settlement. That's what I meant when I said "I tend to believe most of the allegations" - and I believe them even without proof. Certainly, there's no condescending tone in such a statement. Give me at least a little credit. Why would I have any reason to be condescending?

This is what I was talking about in the first message of this thread. When we assume what others think and don't accept what they have to say for themselves, we do each other a disservice and make true discussion impossible. If you continue to tell me what I think, how can I have a chance at fair discussion with you? Doesn't my own expression of my own opinion count for anything?

Respectfully,
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Ebbie
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 02:59 PM

"I tend to believe most of the allegations" Joe Offer

I suspect that the sentence itself is what is offputting to some. Had you said, "I believe most of the allegations", it would be a more accurate statement of your stance, I think. You then could add: "I tend to DISbelieve some of the allegations", no one could find fault with it. imo


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 04:48 PM

People who are bent on being put off can be put off by practically anything.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 04:53 PM

I think Joe said exactly what he meant. Anything else would have been waffle.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Ed T
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 05:40 PM

"I tend to believe most of the allegations"
Unfortunitely, some RC's even disbelieve (d) cases that were proven to the satisfaction of the courts...but fortunately, due to a significant number of cases in many world locals, that number is decreasing.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Crowhugger
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 05:41 PM

There might be exceptions but I think it's fair to say that I tend to believe a great variety of things, including those that seem to be true on the balance of probabilities and things based on information from reputable 3rd parties. I believe things I have verified directly for myself. Rightly or wrongly, it's in that light that I understood Joe's remark.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Ed T
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 06:04 PM

"and things based on information from reputable 3rd parties"

Unfortunately for many abused children, really good sexual abusers make sure there is no third party around at the time of the abuse.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 09:23 PM

People who are bent on being put off can be put off by practically anything.

Very good. You're not as bad as I thought. ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 04:23 AM

Hi Joe,
I apologise if I have over-reacted - (not uncommon nowadays).
At the time of the Ryan report being issued, an organisation was set up here in Ireland (L.O.V.E.?) the aim of which was transparently to debunk or at least, to call into question the findings of the tribunals. It attempted to place a question mark over all the cases coming to light, giving the overall impression that it was a plot against the church. I can no longer find a reference to it so I assume it died the death it deserved.
I'm sure you are right that there will be the occasional ghoul who will attempt to profit from the affair; we can only hope that those dealing with the cases can sort them out.
But this should not stand in the way of uncovering the very many cases that have not yet come to light - not in order to extract 'revenge', but to recognise that a great wrong has been done to a great number of people (children) who have had both their bodies and their faith violated.
In this way, perhaps we can make sure that it doesn't happen again.
Best,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 01:01 PM

I'm relieved to hear that, Steve. ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Amos
Date: 30 Mar 11 - 08:20 PM

A discussion with Dawkins and his counterpoint, of interest.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 31 Mar 11 - 09:07 PM

Jim Carroll says:

    Hi Joe,
    I apologise if I have over-reacted - (not uncommon nowadays).
    At the time of the Ryan report being issued, an organisation was set up here in Ireland (L.O.V.E.?) the aim of which was transparently to debunk or at least, to call into question the findings of the tribunals. It attempted to place a question mark over all the cases coming to light, giving the overall impression that it was a plot against the church. I can no longer find a reference to it so I assume it died the death it deserved.


Hi, Jim-
Yes, I've heard the people who try to say the whole sexual abuse thing is an attempt to discredit the Catholic Church, or that it's a "homosexual conspiracy," or any number of things that try to turn the tables. It's all garbage, and most Catholics I know pay little heed to it. I encountered one of those "deniers" yesterday, and ruffled her feathers a bit. A crusty (and very humorous) Irish-born nun spoke to support me. Yes, there are a few ornery Catholics who attempt to deny the impact of the sexual abuse scandal, but that number is very small.

Most of the Catholics I know, think the exposure of the sexual abuse scandal provided a much-needed catharsis for the Catholic Church. My biggest concern is that some bishops still don't "get" it; and seem to blame the problem on disobedience to their long-lost authority, instead of on their own irresponsibility.

-Joe-


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